Putting people at the heart of our streets

Playing Out recently spoke to Chris Boardman MBE, National Commissioner at Active Travel England, the government’s new executive agency for cycling and walking, about how play streets contribute towards increasing active travel and creating liveable streets for all.

Children cycling and scooting between parked cars on a residential street; inset: Chris Boardman
Image: Playing Out

Playing Out is a parent and resident-led movement restoring children’s freedom to play out in the streets and spaces where they live.

According to Playing Out:

“Active travel has huge health and environmental benefits for everyone. But for children, it has an extra and incredibly important significance, as walking and cycling are their only means to get around independently of adults – to get to the bus stop, call on a friend, go to the park or local shops, get themselves to school. The benefit of this “independent mobility” for children is immeasurable, opening up opportunities, enabling them to be outdoors and active, to connect with friends, to gain confidence and to feel part of their local neighbourhoods.

Through using the street in a different way, play streets encourage a shift away from a “roads are for cars” mentality, showing that the streets where we live are a shared space for everyone to use, including children. This can influence car drivers to drive more considerately through residential areas, with greater awareness of other “road users”, or even to avoid driving for short journeys.”

If our streets work for children, they work for everyone

At a recent webinar, Playing Out spoke to Chris Boardman about his exciting new role at Active Travel England and the changes the agency will be making to infrastructure in order to support active travel and make streets more welcoming not just for children, but for everyone.

The talk is well worth a watch; you can view a recording here or find a summary of the highlights below:

Highlights from our Active Travel webinar with Chris Boardman - Playing Out
A transcript of key points made by Chris Boardman, Active Travel Commissioner, during his talk Playing Out

Previous online events from Playing Out:

Playing Out: impact of play streets on physical activity and public health
Playing Out is a parent and resident-led movement restoring children’s freedom to play out in the streets and spaces where they live. Watch their recent webinar to find out more about the impact of play streets on children’s activity and health.

Related listening and reading:

Canaries in the Coal Mine: How Child-Friendly Planning and Design Can Save Cities – Hosted by David Bernstein & Carlton Reid since 2006
Is local kids’ independence the price for drivers’ convenience?
Long queues of parents practising social distancing at the school gates has become an everyday sight since children returned to school after lockdown and is likely to remain so for a good while yet. The pandemic has changed the school run for many families, bringing questions about our shared roads