Tag Archives: planning policy

The sorry state of neighbourhood design in America: a mother writes

After my last blog post about German children having more everyday freedom than their English peers, Andrea – a German-born woman who now lives in the USA – got in touch to leave a comment. She had some revealing things to say about the differences between her home and adopted countries, and has agreed to let me share them more prominently. She paints a depressing picture of car-dependence and isolation: a stark comparison with her experiences in Germany. Here is her story.

Road near Bailey School, Minnesota.

Woodbury, MN. Source: Strongtowns.org

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German children enjoy far more everyday freedom than their English peers

New research from the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) shows that only a quarter of English primary school children are allowed to walk to school alone – yet in Germany, three quarters are. It is easy to think that the decline in children’s freedom to play out of doors and get around on their own is an inevitable side effect of modern life. That is why international comparisons are so valuable: they can show us how things might be different.

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How child-friendly is Moscow?

Mum and child on bridgeOn my visit to Moscow last week, I witnessed an intriguing sight as I was crossing a bridge near the city centre. A little girl and her mother were walking towards me. As they went past, the girl stooped down to make a snowball, and then she threw it playfully towards her mother. Not very noteworthy, you may think – except that it was minus 6 degrees Centigrade, with a biting wind and eight lanes of Moscow traffic roaring by just metres away from us. You could not have asked for a clearer example of children’s appetite for play, regardless of their circumstances. So how well does Russia’s capital satisfy that appetite – how child-friendly is it?

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What is it like to grow up in Moscow?

Young people on a bench

Image by Edwin Gardner, from Partizan Publik

In a couple of weeks I will be speaking at the Moscow Urban Forum, and I am asking for your help in making the most of this exciting opportunity. I want to find out more about everyday life for Moscow’s children. Can you help me discover what it is like to grow up in the neighbourhoods that the majority of Muscovite families live in?

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Returning to Oz

Kangaroo saying "Back again? Strewth!I am very pleased to announce that I will be returning to Australia in late October for a couple of weeks or so, visiting Melbourne, Queensland and Perth. In Melbourne, I’m talking at the new Royal Botanical Gardens Cranbourne site, just a few days after it is fully opened to the public. I’m also renewing my connection with VicHealth at an invitation-only masterclass for senior regional local government.

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London leads the way with new planning guidance

Cover of draft GLA SPG on playThe Mayor of London has today released draft revised planning guidance for outdoor play, entitled Shaping Neighbourhoods: Children and Young People’s Play and Informal Recreation. The document shows that London’s decision-makers continue to take seriously the play needs of the capital’s children and young people.

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A brief history of the popsicle test

Children and adults in a popsicle storeHow do you measure the child-friendliness of a neighbourhood? Here’s one test. Would you, as a parent of an 8-year-old child living in that neighbourhood, let your child make their own way to a shop and buy a popsicle (or any variety of ice-cream) – and could your child get the frozen treat back home before it melted?

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