Policies and practices that promote children’s independent mobility

All authors:
Whitzman, C.
Host organisation: CoE Melbourne, Australia
Publication year: 2008
Published in:
Urban Planning International, Vol. 23 (5), 56—61.
Research theme: Policy and Planning
Research article

Children's independent mobility means the freedom of those under 18 to move around in public space without adult accompaniment. In Australia and internationally,children's independent mobility has been greatly restricted over the past 30 years.Two primary sets of reasons have been hypothesized:planning and design considerations such as lower densities,less land use mix,bigger roads and more car traffic;and social considerations such as increased concerns around traffic and stranger danger.

The negative impacts of restricting children's independent mobility include limiting children's physical and social development in terms of knowledge and mastery of the neighbourhood environment and increased dependence on cars.

Paradoxically,the more people choose to put their children in cars,the less safe it is,in terms of both traffic safety and stranger danger.Increasing children's independent mobility would require both allaying parental fears about traffic and stranger danger,and creating physical environments that encourage children's right to walk safely on their own.Alter providing a general overview of the problem, this paper will focus on a Melbourne-area case study of specific social and physical environment improvements arising from considering children's independent mobility.

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