Book Review

Designing Streets for Kids

NACTO and Global Designing Cities Initiative

The new kid on the block has arrived and joined the expanding suite of design resources
produced by Global Designing Cities Initiative’s (GDCI), a programme of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). Designing Streets for Kids focuses on the needs of children and their caregivers with the wider aim of transforming streets to create safe, sustainable and healthy cities. This book supplements the Global Street Design Guide published in 2016; however, it is a comprehensive book and can be read as a stand-lone resource.

The book is organised into three sections. The scene is set by highlighting the long–term effects that street design can have on children and how by addressing these, wider benefits can be gained for all. Challenges are given from a global perspective which include death and injuries from road traffic accidents, mental health stress and a lack of physical activity. This is supported by disheartening facts such as that worldwide around 127,000 children under the age of five die each year from outdoor air pollution. The guidance that follows provides solution-orientated approaches ranging from a strategic level, through policy and planning, right down to street design, including dimensions and sections. Concluding the guidance, the final part offers recommendations on processes related to engagement, scaling up projects, funding and measuring impact.

A real strength of this guide is its visually-led approach with the use of rich graphics, colour photographs, diagrams and tables which makes it easy to navigate. Although the information is primarily from a North American perspective, the inclusion of case studies from different countries provides insights on best practice, strategies, policies and projects at a global level. Therefore
it is a valuable resource for street designers working in urban contexts.

It is worth mentioning that while this guide’s focus is on the needs of children and caregivers, there is perhaps an oversight on the needs of adolescents. The latter are often omitted, sitting between childhood and adulthood, and often excluded from public spaces. Should this book be updated, there would be an opportunity to expand the guidance on the conversation around many of the health, physical and social well-being challenges that teenagers face in urban streets, and design solutions addressing these. The guidance provides plenty of practical information and an index would be useful; fortunately the free downloadable PDF version is searchable. It is a great resource and one to add to the growing literature on ways to make cities more inclusive.

URBAN DESIGN 160 Autumn 2021 Publication Urban Design Group

As featured in URBAN DESIGN 160 Autumn 2021

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Designing Streets for Kids Publication Urban Design Group
978 1642830712
Reviewed By
Amanda Gregor, Associate, Public Practice working at Sevenoaks District Council