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Resource provides guidance on designing streets for children

Designing Streets for Kids has been released by NACTO as a supplement to the Global Street Design Guide, which aims to set a new global baseline for designing urban streets. 

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Best practice is shared from cities such as Tirana in Albania. Picture: City of Tirana
Best practice is shared from cities such as Tirana in Albania. Picture: City of Tirana

A new guide offers practical advice for making city streets safer and more welcoming for children and care-givers.

 

Designing Streets for Kids has been released by the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI). It is a supplement to the GDCI’s Global Street Design Guide (GSDG), which aims to set a new global baseline for designing urban streets.

 

Putting people first

 

Designing Streets for Kids builds upon the approach of putting people first, with a focus on the specific needs of babies, children, and their care-givers as pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users in urban streets around the world.

 

“If you design a street that works for kids, you’ve designed a street that works for everyone,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, NACTO and GDCI Chair and principal with Bloomberg Associates. “Designing Streets for Kids shows how cities can lead by design to improve the quality of life for people everywhere.”

“While urban design challenges affect all children, they are especially stark for children in low-income and historically underserved communities”

In a launch statement, NACTO said that most streets were not built with children in mind, and current street conditions in many places are unwelcoming and unsafe for kids. Traffic crashes kill 1.35 million people every year and they are the leading cause of death for young people aged between five and 29 years.

 

Traffic congestion and vehicle designs can also contribute to dangerously high levels of air pollution, which is responsible for the death of 127,000 children under the age of five each year. Many of these fatalities are preventable, and these numbers can be dramatically reduced through kid-friendly street design.

 

Fortaleza in Brazil is among the featured cities. PIcture: NACTO-GDCI
Fortaleza in Brazil is among the featured cities. PIcture: NACTO-GDCI

It states that poor street design also has negative consequences for children’s physical and mental health. Streets that are noisy and/or hostile to pedestrians and transit users tend to discourage physical activity, which deprives children of independent mobility and opportunities to exercise and play.

 

Best practice shared

 

The resource offers detailed diagrams and graphics and shares best practices, strategies, programmes and policies used globally by cities such as Fortaleza in Brazil, Bogotá in Colombia, Moscow in Russia and Tirano in Albania.

 

It pays particular attention to street redesigns in key places such as schools and neighbourhood streets, as well as high-traffic areas including commercial streets and intersections. It also shows how to implement and scale-up street redesign plans, highlighting tactics to engage children throughout the planning process, an often-overlooked approach that can dramatically transform how streets are designed and used.

 

“While urban design challenges affect all children, they are especially stark for children in low-income and historically underserved communities,” said Skye Duncan, director of NACTO-GDCI. “Reliable mobility options and access to safe, healthy streets is a human right, and Designing Streets for Kids provides actionable strategies for ensuring equitable access to these vital public spaces.”

 

Designing Streets for Kids can be viewed and downloaded for free at GlobalDesigningCities.org.

 

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