How can we give our children the best opportunities in life?

Children deserve freedom of mobility

Children and youth deserve the ability to move safely, conveniently and enjoyably around Yarra, e.g. to walk or cycle to school, sport, the library or their friends houses.

Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people.

Enrique Peñalosa
Image credit: Troy Parsons

There are dozens of reasons why walking is good for children. Walking keeps them fit and active, helps them learn about road safety and prepares them for independence. It shows them that the world is an interesting place, and gives them the chance to watch their own neighbourhoods change with the seasons. It keeps them connected with other people who live nearby – older people and other children.

Victoria Walks – Walking with Children

A good city is one in which children can grow and develop to the extent of their powers; where they can build their confidence and become actively engaged in the world; yet be autonomous and capable of managing their own affairs.

Keven Lynch, Growing Up in Cities, 1977; sourced from Compendium of Best Practices of Child Friendly Cities

New research reports children who have freedom to move from A to B by themselves – rather than depending on adults to take them places – experience improved wellbeing.

Dr Lisa Gibbs, University of Melbourne

Research from Dr Lisa Gibbs is available at The Conversation and the report below:

Yarra’s 0-25 Years Plan

Yarra has an 0-25 Years Plan with a Strategic Priority for child and family friendly environments for walking and cycling:

Image credit: City of Yarra
Source: Yarra 0-25 Years Plan.

However, the Plan 2018-2022 and Action Plan 2018-2019 only aim to ‘promote’, ‘advocate’, ‘encourage’ or ‘seek’ infrastructure improvements, instead actually building them. This isn’t good enough.

Source: Yarra 0-25 Years Action Plan 2018-2019.
Source: Yarra 0-25 Years Plan 2018-2022.
Source: Yarra 0-25 Years Plan 2018-2022.


The solution is to deliver integrated networks of safe travel infrastructure throughout Yarra, enabling children to walk, cycle or use public transport between home, school, sport and friends. Key elements include:

Image credit: NACTO Designing Streets for Kids

Support from VicHealth

VicHealth has prepared a consensus statement with a focus is on giving children and young people the best chance for a healthier start to life.

Design guides

Learn more from this collection of design guides, including the NACTO guide to designing streets for kids:

Image credit: NACTO

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Let’s build a beautiful, liveable and accessible city