The UK’s children want to live and play on traffic-free streets, with mint chocolate grass and rollercoasters among some of the more esoteric features they’d also like to see from their bedroom window, according to Sustrans.
The sustainable transport charity has announced the winners of its ‘Dream Street’ competition, which asked children throughout the UK to show how their ideal street would look. Cars don’t feature high on their wish lists.
The competition forms part of Sustrans’ Free Range Kids initiative, with youngsters encouraged to consider what they would like to see outside their home and ways in which the street on which they live could be changed to make it easier to get around and safer to play on.
Some of the responses struck a common chord, with absence of motor traffic a regularly sought feature. Nine-year-old Holly from Bristol said that on her Dream Street, “there would be no cars and everybody would ride their bikes and scooters safely around,” while another girl of the same age, Georgia from Cardiff, explained that hers was “very safe for children to play because no cars can get up there. It’s also very peaceful and good for everyone.”
Other entries were rather more idiosyncratic. Nine-year-old Gabbriella from Perth’s dream street was confectionery-based, with “mint chocolate grass and skittles for a path, YUM!”. Meanwhile, for eight-year-old Birmingham youngster Summer, her idyll was a girls-only zone: “My street would have flowers, fountains and water instead of land, and no pollution and no boys.”
More than 2,500 entries were received and judged by a panel comprising Alan Pendlewood, managing director of play area business Pendlewood, Alex Allan, project director of Sustrans’ Liveable Neighborhoods and fashion designer Wayne Hemingway,who also founded urban redevelopment agency Hemingway Design, who said he’d been impressed with the response.
“The number of entries received was remarkable and the quality impressive. It seems that children all over the UK would like to live on streets where they can wander freely and play with their friends. Children want to be free range, but the traffic we create on our streets prevents them from being so.”
According to Mr Allen, “Sustrans believes that every child should have the freedom from their front door to explore, play outdoors, and make their own way to school and beyond.
“The enormous rise in the speed and volume of traffic has driven children indoors or into cars to be ferried around. Fear of traffic danger is twice as much a concern to parents as 'stranger danger'. We think it's time for change. We believe every child deserves to be free range for the sake of their health, happiness and well-being.”
St Oliver Plunkett School in Belfast was named winner of the 7-10 year old group entry, for which it receives a Hissing Sid Bench donated by Pendlewood, while Howard of Effingham School won a Pendlewood Kew 3 outdoor classroom after claiming top honours in the 11-14 year old school category.
Individual winning entries came from nine-year-old Elliott Kingsford of Cambridge – it’s his picture at the top of the article – and 12-year-old Niamh Smith of Gloucester, each of them winning their family a camping pod holiday at Westholme Estate and Abbey Farm Caravan Park.
Sustrans’ ‘Free Range Kids’ campaign aims to encourage children to be active and independent through initiatives such as reducing the speed and volume of traffic as well as fostering public areas that actively encourage children to play there in safety.
More information can be found on the Sustrans website.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.