Transportation is an important consideration for children and youth and, of course, for their parents. Apart from walking or cycling to areas relatively close to home, or taking the school bus, younger children are generally taken places by their parents. As children get older and become teenagers, they tend to travel more independently and farther from home, using various modes of active transportation: walking, rollerblading, cycling, using skateboards or motorized transportation such as scooters, taking buses, and other public transit.When they reach the age of 16, many will begin to learn how to drive.
Children’s independent travel has been declining significantly over the last few decades, in part, due to communities being structured around motorized transportation. Modes of active transportation are not just good for an individual’s health, they also help create healthy communities by putting more "eyes on the street." Children and youth are more likely to get to know their neighbours and their surroundings, and parents are more likely to feel comfortable allowing their children to be out on their own.
Community safety is increased when people know each other. Communities should be planned with active transport infrastructure in mind. Young people’s safety, recreational and social activities all depend on child and youth friendly transportation.
The way in which such transportation is provided will differ in urban and rural settings. For example, major urban centres may be able to provide public transit services that meet the needs of youth for travel in the evening, but alternatives will be needed in smaller rural communities.
image by cobalt123/cc/flickr
UNCRC and TRANSPORTATION
Article 12 is about the views of the child
Children and young people have a right to participate in all matters affecting them, and those views should be given due weight “in accordance with the age and maturity of the child”.
As a part of creating a transportation plan that affect children and youth, children and youth should be given opportunities to voice their input.
Article 31promotes the benefits of play
Children and youth have the right to play and relax by doing things like sports, music and drama.
This includes playing outdoors and being able to walk and bike in their community
“Traffic accidents are still one of the leading causes of death for children, but this means we should teach them how to behave, not prevent them from using roads.”
~Scout Gray, Bike Education Program Manager, HUB Vancouver
“Children’s travel by car is undesirable—because of poor in-vehicle air quality and opportunities lost to exercise, gain independence, and experience neighbourhoods—land use and transport planners could help ensure that the distances children travel by car are kept as short as possible”
~Richard Gilbert and Catherine O’Brien, Kids on the Move