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

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

Walking and cycling are good for children

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
Image credit: Troy Parsons

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 ‘Stepping Out – Children negotiating independent travel.

Yarra policy

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

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.

What Yarra can do

Yarra can make streets better for children by building:

  • wider footpaths and safe crossings,
  • protected bicycle lanes that link 30 km/h streets in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, and
  • protected level-access tram stops. 
Image credit: NACTO Designing Streets for Kids

Budget is needed to pay for the necessary infrastructure improvements, and revenue is available by reforming the pricing of on-street parking. Unfortunately, council faces several barriers to implementation, including:

  • Some residents don’t want council to allocate more street space to walking and cycling
  • Some residents don’t want council to charge market rates for on-street parking

Each of us can help by showing our support for an increased allocation of street space and budget for walking and cycling, e.g. by appearing as a champion on the Streets Alive Yarra website.

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.

Guidance from the Netherlands

By the time most Dutch kids are between eight and ten, the traffic calmed streets mean their parents are willing to let them travel independently. They are in control of how they get to school, friends’ houses, and sports clubs, and there’s something really important there.

Melissa & Chris Bruntlett
Image credit: Melissa and Chris Bruntlett

Design guides

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

Image credit: NACTO

How you can help

You can help by appearing on the Streets Alive Yarra website as a champion for your local street, neighbourhood, or school.

Let’s build a beautiful, liveable and accessible city