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Streetfacts #4: Children Have Lost the Freedom to Roam

8:31 AM PDT on May 10, 2013

The next Streetfacts chapter is a PSA that - hopefully - enlightens the U.S. public to how over generations we have nibbled away at kids' freedoms and their ability to roam, play, grow, and become citizens.

Most advocates know the percentage of children walking and bicycling to school have diminished greatly over the years, from near  50% in 1969 to closer to 13% today.  This despite the fact that the Safe Routes to School National Partnership cites that although distance from school being cited as the main barrier to walking and bicycling, car trips account for about half of school trips between 1/4 and 1/2 mile — which in most cases shouldn't take kids much more than 10 minutes to walk.

We're not gonna pretend there aren't plenty of factors at work here:  Lack of sidewalks and safe walking routes.  No secure bike parking at schools.  The fallacy of "stranger danger".  School districts banning these modes outright.  But all of these issues lead back to the biggest blunder: we continue to design our world for cars instead of students, children and human beings.

We are going to re-visit this issue often in the next year.

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