Sustrans have launched a new strategy, Free Range Kids. They write
As the clocks go back and children make their winter journeys to and from school in darker conditions, the need for safer roads is more urgent. Miranda Krestovnikoff, Ambassador for Sustrans’ Free Range Kids Campaign, says; ‘Britain’s approach to road safety is deeply flawed. Dressing our children in high-visibility clothes from head to toe does not tackle the source of the danger. What we need is to reduce traffic speeds in residential and urban areas to 20mph, and invest far more in creating safe walking and cycling routes, to school and beyond. If we don’t then our children will be denied the freedom we so enjoyed when we were kids, and miss out on so much that makes childhood special.’
Sustrans – and their ambassador Miranda Krestovnikoff – have it absolutely right. We should address the source of the danger on our streets, and not apply sticking-plaster solutions to the people who are exposed to that danger. Simply mitigating against inattentive driving is an incredibly short-sighted way of going about achieving ‘safety’, especially when you consider the consequences for the well-being of children –
Keeping children from walking and cycling is having a detrimental effect on their health and wellbeing. Thirty years ago 80 per cent of seven to eight year olds walked or cycled to school on their own. That figure has since been reversed, with 80 per cent of children of a similar age accompanied by an adult – increasingly in a car. As a result, children are less independent and less physically active.
Here are some children I spotted being escorted home from school in Brighton, a couple of weeks ago –
We need to make our streets safe for children.