Child-friendly street transformations improve neighbourhood quality of life
Children experience street infrastructure uniquely. However, how we design streets doesn’t always consider children’s needs.
This blog from the Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI) spotlights two successful street interventions in Fortaleza, Brazil and Santiago, Chile, which made streets more safe, active and sociable, benefitting children and adults.
The Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI) Streets for Kids team is a group of urban planners, designers, and strategists dedicated to creating safer and healthier streets for children and their caregivers around the world. From providing online training and interactive capacity building sessions to in-depth technical assistance, GDCI’s Streets for Kids team has partnered with over thirty cities worldwide to ensure a cleaner, healthier, and safer future, says Anna Siprikova, Senior Program Manager for GDCI.
In 2019, Fortaleza, Brazil established the Caminhos da Escola (Pathways to School), a national program to reduce the number of children killed and injured in road crashes. In 2020, with the support of the GDCI Streets for Kids team, local teams examined several sites previously identified by Caminhos da Escola. Based on different factors like road crashes in the area, the number of students, and the number of public spaces surrounding schools, they selected a site comprising two adjacent streets: Rua Antônio Pereira and Avenida Chico Mendes.
Throughout the implementation of this Streets for Kids project, several departments in the city of Fortaleza were involved—including the Municipal Office of Regional Management, Fortaleza Traffic Authority, the Secretary of Education, and the Science, Technology, and Innovation Foundation of Fortaleza. In addition to the basic road safety upgrade under the Caminhos da Escola program, the Streets for Kids USD 20,000 grant added elements for play, socializing, and experiencing joy, and further road safety improvements. The project reclaimed space dedicated to motorized vehicles and transformed it into a shared public space by repaving the street, closing a street segment to build a play area, and adding planters, benches, and paint designs. The construction phase began in December 2020 and lasted a year, taking longer than planned due to COVID-19-related delays.
After completing this Streets for Kids project, more than 90 per cent of children surveyed found the new street conditions safer for walking and playing. Additionally, the survey found that more than 80 per cent of caregivers were more likely to bring their children to the redesigned street.