Designing Streets for Kids Guidelines Suggest Streets for Kids Work for Everyone

The National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI) recently released its Designing Streets for Kids guidelines. This supplement to NACTO-GDCI’s Global Street Design Guide (GSDG) is a free resource that provides practical solutions for cities to create safer streets.  The guide builds upon the approach of putting people first – with a particular focus on the specific needs of children and their caregivers as pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.

“If you design a street that works for kids, you’ve designed a street that works for everyone,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, NACTO and GDCI chair and principal with Bloomberg Associates.”

The three basic principles of the guide include:

  • safety and health – streets should include continuous and accessible pedestrian infrastructure, safe cycling and transit facilities, safe vehicular speeds, clean air, access to nature through landscape, opportunities for physical activity, and adequate lighting;
  • comfort and convenience – places to sit and rest, reliable transit options with accessible wayfinding and scheduling, shade and shelter suitable for the local climate, and facilities such as restrooms and drinking fountains; and,
  • inspiration and education –  streets that are beautiful and have spaces for learning, development, and play – offering opportunities for imaginations to develop.

From 2019 to 2021, NACTO’s Global Designing Cities Initiative is working directly with 12 international cities to reimagine and redesign their streets to support comfortable, healthy, and inspiring environments for all children. The cities receive assistance in the form of workshops and training. The Streets for Kids program is supported by the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Fondation Botnar, and the FIA Foundation.

“While urban design challenges affect all children, they are especially stark for children in low-income and historically underserved communities,” said Skye Duncan, director of NACTO-GDCI. “Reliable mobility options and access to safe, healthy streets is a human right, and Designing Streets for Kids provides actionable strategies for ensuring equitable access to these vital public spaces.”