Close residential streets on Sundays so children can play out
Based on the suggestion by MP Anne Milton that cars could be banned from residential roads to allow children to play out in the street. This is an excellent idea that would help counter child obesity, aid child development, help foster community cohesion.
Angus Hewlett commented
It's easy to arrange access for emergency vehicles - typically closures are managed with temporary signage or at most a couple of trestle tables supervised by an adult or two. So can be moved out of the way in half a minute should access be needed - before the ambulance even arrives!
Some play street or sunday street arrangements allow residents' cars (but not through traffic) in and out at jogging pace or so - adding only a minute or two to journey times. It comes down to the local situation - if the street is somewhat car-dependent and there's no alternative parking nearby, that's the best option.
"Let that be in the park", I'm afraid, entirely misses the point. Streets belong to all of us - kids included - residential streets were never intended to serve as merely a car park and through road.. look at photos from any time before about 1965, or think back to your own childhood. One good way of managing the impact on those residents who don't want to join in is to set up an arrangement between a few neighbouring streets and rotate the closures on a weekly basis.
Shelagh Stott commented
Children do need to play out more, however let that be in park, there is no need to close residential roads just for kids to play out, what happens if someone requires urgent medical treatment from Paramedics they would not able to get that help.
Neighbours, need to have some peace and quiet too you know.
Angus Hewlett commented
Why should the children of the street put up with the noise and inconvenience of your car, your lawnmower, etc.? Simple - because the nature of society, community, public space is give a little, take a little. This proposal just does a little to redress the balance. Nobody's saying kids should be kicking heavy footballs around your flowerbeds or car windows, or making enough noise to raise the dead - that's antisocial on any day of the week. They should, however, get a fair stake in their own street.
Why dont obese parents walk their children to the park or the beach or just anywhere, and let their neighbours have a bit of peace on a sunday - some children are a total pain...as are their 'we have rights' parents. Why dont you shoulder some of your duties and take them out ?????
No thanks - why should we put up with the noise and inconvenience on any day of the week???? Can't be bothered to take your children out on a Sunday???? And as for it fostering community cohesion...youre ridiculous!
Michael Guilford commented
A few observations:
I think much of the negative response to this idea revolves around 'my human right to do what I want'. If you go through various states around the world and through history and asked people what their 'rights' were under that state, the answers wouldn’t all be 'i have a right to do what i want as long as it isnt directly harmful to someone else or illegal’.
In this country people assume that car drivers have primary right to the roads, I cannot find anything in the highway code that suggests this.
Similarly people assume that they have a right to be unhealthy as they want. If the government puts up alchohol and cigarette tax in order to reduce related health disorders, some people may say that they are having their freedom taken away.
62% of the population is obese. Most of these people probably would rather not be obese yet do not have the will power to change. If were hypothetically offered the chance to not be obese due to lifestyle changes earlier in their life, they would probably be less inclined to argue against having their freedom taken away now. Our society is focused on the tangible acts of freedom therefore overlooks the lack of freedom in many of the consequences more distant from our action.
Basiscally it will take a change in moral motivation in order for something like this to go through
@Zoe - the Dutch idea is good, I've seen some of them in action. In the UK we already have play streets existing legislation. It's just not used nowadays, and sadly forgotten about - but it's still there. It needs reviving, which is actually what we are busily trying to do.
Zoe your idea wont work - why do i say that - because we are NOT the Dutch ok
i see theres been no comments on this for a while -good maybe its because the silly pc idea is dying -I do hope that it is
Zoe Bremer commented
I think we should adopt the Dutch practice in all possible places and set up woonerven. A woonerf is an area where motor traffic is kept to walking pace and only pedestrians, cyclists and horses go unrestricted. It costs very little to install the necessary chicanes and widened pavements allow for more trees to be planted and seating to be installed.
very much in favour, for too long far too much priority has been given to the convenience of drivers and their 'rights', yet the motoring lobby argues there is a war on the mororist. Why is everything seen in such black and white terms, the proposals previously suggested were for a couple of hours' closure on sundays. surely if we managed to design the internet and get a man on the moon we can be trusted to work out a system where if a resident of a closed road did really need to use their car they could do so, provided that a supervising adult moved the obstructions (ie cones/barriers) and the kids v temporarily stopped playing. It happens in other countries, yet over here very few politicians ever have the guts to do ANYTHING that might upset the motoring lobby, and they seem to imagine that all adults are somehow petrolheads...many adults I know who drive seem to think this would be a great idea, civilising our streets temporarily rather than handing them over permanently to the convenience of someone who desperately needs to drive a vehicle better suited to the desert in order to go half a mile to the supermarket to pick up milk and a newspaper.
To take this one step further, all motorised vehicles should be banned from moving on Sundays, with the exception of emergency vehicles. If we had one day a week whereby no motor vehicles were used, can you imagine how quiet it would become, the air would be generally cleaner on that day, and people would have to walk or cycle to get to where-ever they wished to go, thereby helping people get some reasonable exercise. If you also closed all shops and trading establishments on a Sunday, with the exception of Greengrocers for the Sunday morning, we could all then have what we had many years ago, a day of rest. Let's go for it.
Hugo Grinmore commented
Dave, have you investigated al lthe other campaigns running at the moment on kids playing out? there's 'playing out' in bristol and oxford, for example.
if you look for keywords on facebook you'll find a lot of activity there.
the suggestion by one low grade tory mp isn’t the best place to start - most folk will view her with suspicion. then there is playengland, who have just got £2M from the government to encourage playing out and such.
diane abbott has just been totally unfairly monstered over her foolish twittering [she might be right on racism [or just right-on about racism] which has overshadowed her words on play totally.
play is, on a cyclical basis, the subject of token early day motions and the like. it used to be that a kid on a skateboard had to be killed falling through a factory roof, or run over to get one going. it would rumble on for years, then finally government would give a lump of money to some agency to spend. the last one was playengland, before that was playboard in the mid-80s.
some of us want to sidestep all that.
so, in fact, I applaud your intention.
and I suggest you link up with 'playing out' in bristol [googlit]
try to avoid the machinations of helpful agencies.
don't reinvent the wheel with your campaign suggestion.
Politicians should look closer to home for solutions to play-deprived childhoods
@Hugo I agree with you, but isn't this campaign at least a start? To try to cater for children's needs - to make road safe for them to play in - for few hours each week. With your experience - can you help us improve this campaign, and help promote it?
Hugo Grinmore commented
When I go down the pub, I go for a beer. I'm not socialising, I'm not promoting community cohesion, I'm not getting 5 a day or fighting my obesity, I'm having a beer. It is a human right I exercise.
PLEASE PLEASE drop all this nulabourist political target initiative social work jargonated guff.
Kids have rights too. Kids are members of our communities, they live here also. I can play out, they can't, because their needs are ignored and trampled on by more powerful humans- car drivers, moaning minnies, whatever. The result is that our streets are abandoned to roaming neerdowells and speeding cars. Stuff obesity and what the hell is cohesion anyway?
I have spent most of my working life campaigning for children's play, but with a campaign as poorly expressed and as wooly-headed as this who needs enemies?
There are some good comments in response to the Diane Abbott news story (http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-24024817-let-children-play-in-the-street-to-prevent-them-getting-fat-says-abbott.do) and thought I'd share them, as they are quite relevant to previous questions that have been posted here:
"Things are the way they are today because the criminals rule the streets. Not just the odd mugger or the rare stereotypical child molester - but by people who think it okay to drive at high speed down residential streets, often while yacking on their hand-held mobile phones.
We need to reclaim our streets from these anti-social child killers that force people to keep their kids indoors. Not only that, they scare adults from riding bikes.
The Dutch concept of "woonerf" - living street - sees motorised traffic restricted to walking pace in residential areas. It's an example we can follow. In the UK we have a few "home zones" and London has a practical example in a built up area - Exhibition Road.
I'd like to see those standing for election in 2012 as London Mayor to come out in support of measures to make our streets truly user-friendly for all people, not just those in protected steel boxes on wheels."
"Dianne should be encouraged to develop this theme but to challenge not parents, but both the government and her colleagues in the opposition to put children's play back on the policy agenda.
The last Government had a ten-year plan to make the streets and neighbourhoods where children grow up again fit for them to play in. Until such a plan, or an alternative version of it is implemented, it is no use lecturing parents, as many commentators here have pointed out.
The Coalition Government's abandonment of the Play Strategy was misguided, to say the least. It did not necessarily involve further large scale expenditure on playgrounds, but a more intelligent approach to urban design, local planning and community engagement: an approach that would have put children's needs in the outdoor world into the frame for local decision makers.
As things stand they are routinely overlooked, and the obesity epidemic is just the tip of the iceberg of problems that this is causing."
"The streets are left to criminals because everyone else is shut up in their cars & in front of their TVs. Faced with a group of kids kicking a ball around, the average drug dealer is going to make themselves scarce.
Kids are constantly told that the streets are For Cars they can't drive, shopping areas are For Buying Stuff they can't afford; if they are seen to be "hanging around" they are accused of antisocial behaviour & get moved along even if no laws have been broken. Set against that background it's hardly surprising they shut themselves indoors with video games or, when opportunity presents, smash up town centers out of sheer frustration & disenfranchisement.
If we want our streets to be communities, we need to allow kids to be part of it. Yes, once in a while they might be noisy. Yes, horror of horrors, a wing-mirror might occasionally get knocked off by a stray football. Deal with it - they have as much right to use the space as anybody else; the average adult could learn a lot from the average 11 yr old as to the meaning of the word FUN."
A care home and 3 council houses have just been built on the only green area that children can get to on our estate without crossing major roads. A through road prevents them playing safely on the streets. i wish my children had the freedom that I had growing up but until then they have to be in the garden (so not socialising) or at the park (where play is very defined and confined) its sad
Reclaiming The Residential Street As Play Space
This paper explains how the residential street has progressively lost its function as a play space. In many cities, spontaneous informal child play on streets has been largely replaced by car-dependent, adult supervised games which are more formally organised and distant from the local neighbourhood. There is an assumption by many parents, politicians and planners that a large number of parks, playgrounds and large back yards will satisfy children's recreation needs, and there will be no requirement for children to use streets as play areas. This paper argues a case that streets need to be reclaimed as play space. Research incorporating children's views reveals that they place a high value on streets as play space. Allowing children to play in the local streets has benefits not only for the children, but also for parents involved in their transport, for adults of the neighbourhood concerned with building a sense of community involvement, and for the community at large in terms of lowering traffic congestion and related problems. Strategies that may assist the process of reclaiming residential streets as play space for children are discussed.
Labour's Diane Abbott says "Let children play in the street"
"Over-protective parents must let their children play in the street to save them from obesity, Labour's Diane Abbott has told the Standard.
Ms Abbott, the shadow public health minister, said: "I think London kids are especially at risk because so many mums and dads are fearful about letting them play in the streets. I think parents need to be tougher on their kids' diets to save them from ill-health. Carrying on with the chips and PlayStation 3 culture is not an option."
NHS figures have revealed that more than one in five children in London are obese by the time they leave primary school. The problem is worse in the capital than in any other UK region.
Ms Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said Londoners needed a "revolution" in their approach to children's lifestyles.
"Schools should be on the front line in the battle against obesity. Healthy school dinners and the teaching of domestic science are crucial tools in improving health.
"It is important that we develop an environment where people can make healthy choices - and that we understand the significance of issues like safe play areas for kids, physical activity and also of the advertising of junk food, sugary soft drinks and alcohol."
She criticised the Government for failing to get to grips with the problem, calling for better food labelling, a full-scale prevention programme to target the social and psychological factors behind over-eating, curbs on junk food adverts aimed at children and rules to reduce salt in food.
Childhood obesity costs the capital £7.1 million a year to treat, and the National Child Measurement Programme found that 21.9 per cent of London children were obese when they left primary school, compared with 19 per cent nationally and 16.5 per cent in the South Central region, which includes Oxfordshire and Hampshire.
Children raised in towns and cities were more likely to be overweight, suggesting that outdoor play and exercise could be a factor."