Designing Streets for Kids focuses on the needs of children and caregivers, and offers solutions and inspirational ideas to make urban streets safer for everyone.

It’s part of the US-based Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI), a programme set up by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). Based on the principle of putting the needs of people first, this is a fresh focus on the particular needs of babies, children and their carers as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

Road accidents and traffic congestion

It highlights how, in general across the globe, most streets were not built with children in mind, and current street conditions in many places are unwelcoming and unsafe for kids. Around 1.3 million people are killed in road accidents every years. Crucially, they are also the leading cause of deaths among young people aged from five to 29.

Urban traffic congestion and the ways in which vehicles are designed are also a significant factor in the context of dangerously high levels of air pollution, which kills over 100,000 children under the age of five each year. Yet many of these deaths could be prevented – not least if child-friendly street design was taken more seriously.

Street design

Poor street design also has a detrimental effect on children’s physical and mental health. Noisy, bustling streets often put people off from physical activity, which in turn begins to strip children of their independence and the chance to play, explore and exercise.

Designing Streets for Kids uses diagrams and designs to illustrate and highlight best practices, strategies, programs and policies used globally by cities from Bogotá to Moscow. The guide also focuses on street redesigns in key locations like schools and local neighbourhoods, as well as areas with high traffic levels like commercial streets and busy junctions.

Bringing about change

A dedicated chapter on how to bring about change also shows how ideas can be implemented and redesigns scaled-up. Crucially, this includes ‘tactics’ for engaging children in the planning process, an often-underused approach that, says the guide, can dramatically transform how streets are designed and used.

Download the guide