20mph Helps Children Reach Places to Play Out

Children are recommended an hour of active play daily, ideally outdoors.  With wide area 20mph limits they can more safely reach the best play locations.  20mph is child protection.  It encourages parents to allow kids out so children can move, be fit, sporty, explore, have fun and see friends. Playing out  encourages walking or cycling to school. 

Most British children want to play out more than they are allowed.  Parents fear traffic, yet seem less aware that sitting inside has serious long term developmental risks too – the ‘inactivity time bomb’.  Children’s wellbeing improves if they can make their own way ‘free range’ to school, friends or other play opportunities.  Constant chaperoning restricts friendships, is costly in adult time and fuel bills.  Happy children are not ‘fenced in’ to backyard only play.  Children need space to explore from their door and run about with others.  Active play is fun and aids physical, educational and social progress.  It’s key to future winners in sports and our Olympic and Tour de France legacy.  Vitamin D from sunlight also aids healthy development.

It is the responsibility of adults to facilitate children’s active travel and play.  Returning more of children’s human rights to free movement and accessibility will also save our nation in long term health and social care costs.  Note that 25% of London’s children are obese by age 11.  

Few roads are suitable for football or other games.  Yet 20mph limits are a huge help to children to reach appropriate play places like parks, friend’s gardens, play areas, traffic free paths, or streets with restricted traffic like cul de sacs.  20mph liberates kids, and especially their mum’s time, to have more fun!  It helps us grow fit children, good at sports, who can concentrate better, with confidence, initiative and a knowledge of their local streets plus a closer sense of a community with neighbours – kids able to walk and cycle.

Permission to play out doubled in South Edinburgh’s 20mph limit from 31% to 66%. Cycling to school tripled[1].

Play streets are temporarily closed to cars to prioritise play.  Children need approach roads with 20mph limits to reach such play opportunities. Play England are working on a project funded by the Department of Health with Playing Out and London Play to reactivate a culture of street play[2].

Rod King MBE, founder of 20’s Plenty for Us said :-

“Us adults must remember that streets ‘belong’ to children just as much as adults. 20mph streets to help children get about on their own is a universal aspiration.  It’s a key reason why we ask for the National Urban Speed limit to be 20mph.”

20’s Plenty call for 20mph limits so that children can play out and gain confidence in walking and cycling locally as a precursor to active, independent travel to school and in setting up exercise habits for life.

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