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Planning Cities With And For Children

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Today, half of humanity lives in urban settings and a third of those people are children. The type of cities we build have a direct impact on those children. Their voices should be heard; their needs addressed, according to a new report released by The Vanier Institute of the Family.

"Children & Cities: Planning to Grow Together" was written by Juan Torres, an urban planner and professor at the University of Montreal. His report concerns the role of children in city planning, both as participants in the decision making that shapes their environment and as users of the city.

As cities sprawl, cars become indispensable. This discourages walking and biking by everyone, but especially by children.

"Cities that promote walking and biking are healthier, more user-friendly, and more efficient," the report notes. "They are also, of course, better places to grow up in that they allow children a certain degree of autonomy essential to their development."

Cities promoting walking and biking are predominantly cities with neighbourhoods that are user-friendly, compact, and complete, the report notes.

This paper is organized into two parts. The first examines general ideas regarding children and their role in urban planning. The second part focuses on  the decline in child-friendly modes of travel such as walking and biking for trips to school.

The report concludes: "The planning of neighbourhoods that promote child-friendly modes of transportation is crucial to the creation of inclusive cities that are adapted to all and promote the development of strong local communities. Today it can be difficult to balance family life with traditional ways of using the neighbourhood – like walking and biking to school. However, the attachment of children (and people in general) to their neighbourhoods is nonetheless important. Children have much to contribute in rethinking the ways we live in cities, share neighbourhoods, and grow together."

This report is in the Best Practices section.

Children & Cities: Planning to Grow Together