Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has identified traffic as one of the major obstacles to creating safer and healthier lifestyles for children.
In Routes to play, published at the end of last week, Sustrans has called for local authorities to take a coordinated approach in encouraging children to play – including improving cycle facilities.
The guide lists a number of measures, including; improved cycle access to play spaces with cycle parking and a review of cycle restrictions, traffic speeds limited to 20mph in built-up areas and improving local knowledge of walking and cycling routes to play spaces with maps and information.
Sustrans cites the success of traffic-calming experiments in Swindon and Edinburgh, and their positive effect on the local communities.
“Children and young people’s freedom to play and be active outdoors has been restricted in recent decades, and the rising levels of childhood obesity now highlight the crucial role of physically active play,” said Sustrans chief executive Malcolm Shepherd.
“Children themselves identify traffic as the main barrier to outdoor play and there is a clear need to ensure they can walk and cycle – where they live – and that they have access to traffic-free spaces for play.
“This won’t happen without rethinking the way our public spaces are planned and managed, to prioritise walking and cycling access over motorised transport. Children should be able to travel actively and independently, when visiting friends or going to the park – play and active travel are interwoven and sometimes indistinguishable.”
The Cycle to play document can be viewed at www.sustrans.org.uk/play