Designing Cities With Youth in Mind

The car-centric design of many U.S. cities traps young people at home, preventing them from engaging in social activities and urban life.

1 minute read

November 16, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Group of children running outdoors toward camera.

JackF / Adobe Stock

In an opinion piece published in Congress for New Urbanism’s Public Square, high school senior Rahul Rejeev argues that “The lack of effective transit, coupled with the lack of kid-friendly destinations and the feeling of more dangerous neighborhoods, means that today’s youth find it harder than ever to go outside, meet up with friends, and form more meaningful relationships.”

The American reliance on the personal automobile particularly impacts young people, many of whom face barriers that prevent them from getting their licenses or buying cars even when they’re old enough. “Lack of mobility coupled with large distances means that kids are far from the places where they want to hang out,” isolating them from social and economic opportunities. “Public transport is the only guaranteed way for a young person to be free and enjoy mobility,” Rejeev writes.

For Rejeev, zoning reform, pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, and efficient public transit are not just ways to curb carbon emissions and reduce car dependency, but also significant ways to improve the lives of young people.

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