Ban Private Cars in London)
Posted by vreadhead
28 Friday Jul 2017
School’s out for Summer!
Many children will be heading out of London for a Summer holiday, but a large proportion will be here for all or part of the six week break. We used to value designated play streets in London but these have gradually disappeared as cars have made inroads into our most precious of public space:
‘London authorities recognised the value of children being able to play safely in their neighbourhoods in 1938 when they passed legislation preventing traffic from entering designated roads for certain periods of time. The popularity of play streets then spread throughout the capital until the popularisation of car ownership in the 1950’s and 1960’s.’
Common Law sets out the duty of London Councils to protect people when creating, designing or maintaining highways. Discriminating against Children, inadvertently or knowingly is clearly breaching that duty of care.
Children are the future of our cities and humanity
If we listen to children, we will understand the vital ingredients of allocating public space. This New York child instinctively recognises the importance of activity, saying ‘instead of sitting on a couch watching cartoons, we learn how to ride a bike, roller skate’.
Children’s right to travel independently, to roam and play in their local environment has been significantly impeded by infrastructure that is dangerous and intimidating. In Islington I have met many older people who cycled independently across London and beyond as 11 year olds. One man described cycling to Southend and back as a twelve year old. We infantalise older children by restricting their accessibility to safe, independent active travel.
Outdoor activity is a crucial component in the growth and development of the child’s brain, body and intellect
The benefits of outdoor play are uncountable: Physical activity develops social, emotional and cognitive competencies. It is also essential for healthy bone development and exposes children to natural vitamin D, sunlight.
Children acquire knowledge experientially through play, experimentation, exploration and discovery. Learning by doing creates more neural networks in the brain and throughout the body, making the entire body a tool for learning. The more neural pathways, the larger the brain.
Physical activity activates the brain much more than doing seat work because moderate to vigorous movement feeds oxygen, water and to the brain, optimizing performance. Sitting, on the contrary, increases fatigue and reduces concentration.
Activity helps children develop their fine and gross motor skills as well as dexterity and balance, all through exploring, risk taking and having fun. This enhances their anticipation and prediction. In short it helps them become streetwise!
Independent travel by bike or on foot is the perfect way for children to make choices, plan and expand their creativity. It is also necessary outlet for reducing stress, allowing the brain to recharge.
The shocking statistics of
- 4 in 10 children now obese or overweight
- 8 out of 10 children in London not doing the minimum activity required for good health
must be a wake up call.