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Urban planning for kids
Detail: Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI), recently released "A Call to Action," which argues that to design a city that works for the young is to design a city that works for everyone. This idea in the realm of city planning is not unique. Most recently, Enrique Penalosa, the celebrated former mayor of Bogota has strongly advocated planning cities for children to work for everyone.

The authors of the report suggest that from a kid's perspective, the ideal city is one where destinations - school, park, home, stores, etc. - are close together and connected by cheap, efficient and safe transit. It also has wide sidewalks and bike lanes. Speed limits would also be lower as cars are, after all, a leading cause of death and injury for children. Were the principles of kid-friendly urban planning to be implemented, it would mean dense, multi-use communities connected by extensive public transit. It would also mean cities where pedestrians and cyclists enjoyed equal access to the streets as well as the public revenues that pay for them.

"A kid-friendly city would be a very liveable city," says report co-author Catherine O'Brien, "whether you're talking about speed limits, scale or distances. When the appropriate infrastructure is there, the fear is diminished. There are more eyes on the street; people feel safer."

The report also calls for formal mechanisms to give youth direct input into the political process. The report also offers a list of guidelines such as:

"Identify where children and youth want to go or need to go ... and provide ways of getting there by foot."

"Do what is possible to reduce amounts of motorized road traffic..."

" ...Provide separate bicycle paths or trails or, if not possible, install bicycle lanes... "

"Separate sidewalks used by children and youth from heavily traveled roads."
Source: Based on a story by Christopher Hume in The Toronto Star, March 7, 2009 Saturday
Date: March 16 2009