Catch up on this Urban Transport Group lunchtime conversation placing children at the heart of transport planning.
Children’s freedom of movement has been dramatically eroded over the past half century and is negatively correlated with adult’s increased ‘freedom’ to drive.
Perhaps because they are not a minority, we forget children’s travel needs may be specific. For children aged 0-16 ‘visiting friends’ is the most significant trip in terms of distance while going to school is the most frequent trip type. Many of their trips are short and could be walked or cycled if road environments were made suitable. Research suggests that to achieve greater diversity in cycling and walking, we need to think beyond the commute, making neighbourhoods cycling friendly and developing safer routes to school, should be equally high on the agenda as cycling corridors that often cater to commuting traffic.
Removing and reducing traffic is an equality issue. Those who make shorter more ‘cyclable’ trips – women, children, older people but also ethnic minorities – stand to benefit most from being able to use local roads for cycling.
National progress with the equity agenda is likely to arrive in the form of targets to cut emissions from transport, changes to the Highway Code and the re-drafting of Manual for Streets, which provide an opportunity to put children back in the picture, protect them better from adult drivers, and place their needs at the heart of highways design.
We must accelerate the pace of change to meet the climate and health crises, but also to meet our moral obligations to children and others we are supposed to be protecting. Streets which work for children work for all