The Importance of Child Care Within Walking Distance

In honor of International Walk to School Day,
we’re going to look at a post from Minnesota’s Twin Cities about what
you might call Wouldn’t It Be Great If You Could Walk Your Kid to
Preschool Day.

Streetsblog Network member Net Density
makes the excellent point that for parents of preschool-age children,
having child care within a quarter-mile of their homes can be the
make-or-break factor in whether they choose an active commute (by foot,
bike, or transit).

After some impressive number-crunching,
the blog’s author comes up with the conclusion that only between 13 and
16 percent of people in Minneapolis-St. Paul live within that distance
of adequate child care options. Which makes for a planning challenge:

2CCBlocks_300x231.jpgMost people don’t make housing decisions based on child care
access, so depending on what you can afford, and where you want to
locate, good child care access may or may not be available in your area.

So as planners and policy makers trying to leverage the multiple
benefits of a non-auto commute (health, environmental, social), what
role do we have in trying to improve this access? Or, in other words,
how can we address this barrier and allow more people to get active? What tools can we use to do so?

Anyone out there want to step forward with some ideas? We’re listening.

More from the network: Cincy Streetcar Blog
has an excellent photo essay that makes a case against Issue 9, an
anti-passenger rail initiative on the ballot in that city this fall. Bicycle Ambassadors demonstrates some justified pride about Philadelphia’s bike commute numbers. And Portlandize takes on the question of who pays for bike infrastructure — and auto infrastructure.

  • joe

    When we picked the daycare for our daughter 1st concern was quality of daycare the 2nd most important was location, and how easy it is to cycle to. Now when I drop her off, I drop her off by bike and she loves it.

  • We chose our house, first because it was in Pasadena, and second because it was centrally located, which meant easy bike access to pretty much everything we needed. Last May we gave up one car (ok, it died) but had been driving bikes a lot already anyway so hardly noticed it. And here is the kicker:

    We chose our daycare, in part, because it was within easy biking distance of our house, and on the way to work.

    So, although we didn’t locate our home based on daycare, we did choose the pre-school based on bike-ability, and the house seperately based in part on bike-ability. IF more folks had easy options like these, I suspected more people would make use of them . . . .

  • A related issue is the importance of a park/playground within walking distance. Many parents I know hop in the car every day to reach a park…illustrating the lack of public park space in most communities.

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