6 Ways to Ensure Equitable Cities for Children

A city that fosters the mental and physical health of children is safer for everyone. Six key planning and design considerations promote the well-being of the city's youngest residents.

September 14, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery


Alinute Silzeviciute / Shutterstock

We can use urban planning and design to better protect children. "It’s estimated that up to 500 children die daily in road crashes around the world; thousands more incur injuries and psychological trauma from collisions with vehicles that can affect them for years," write Nikita Luke, Rohit Tak, Ariadne Samios, and Claudia Adriazola-Steil. 

Their article offers six ways cities can change the lives of kids for the better—ideas that go beyond adding playgrounds and aims to consider children's needs in decisionmaking processes regarding public policy. 

The six improvements identified by the authors promote enhanced mental and physical health in young people: increase accessible green space, ensure safe pedestrian infrastructure, implement low-speed zones, include car-free streets, consider size, and create clean air zones. 

But the benefits experienced by children would also be felt by adults. The article quotes Mayor Enrique Peñalosa of Bogotá in describing children as "a kind of indicator species." If urban planners and designers are able to build a city that promotes success for kids, everyone will experience success in cities. 

"As cities and national governments reset after the coronavirus and ponder investments that will hasten a return to economic and social vibrance, incorporating the unique perspectives of children can help create more inclusive, healthier, livable cities. It’s time for cities to start thinking proactively and long-term about how best to serve all residents, including their youngest" write the authors. 

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