Sunday, 24 September 2023 06:08 GMT

Cars Have Taken Over Our Neighbourhoods. Kid-Friendly Superblocks Are A Way For Residents To Reclaim Their Streets

Author: Hayley Christian

(MENAFN- The Conversation)

You might your time as a child playing outdoors with friends and walking to school. These activities had tremendous benefits for our health and .

Today, report to letting their kids play, walk and ride in their neighbourhood. The is a major concern.

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One way to boost communities is to create“superblocks for kids”. , a superblock covers several neighbourhood blocks reserved for shared use by cyclists, walkers and residents who simply want to use the street space. Superblocks allow low-speed access for residents' cars, but exclude through-traffic.

Superblocks have evolved from concepts . and examples of more liveable and safer streets can be found from to , where there are interesting alternative designs in and .

Transforming neighbourhoods in this way enables us to once again enjoy the public space right on our doorsteps – the street.

Author provided

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Superblocks for kids are a low-cost fix

Superblocks are a solution to the problem of the residential“stroad” – a street-road hybrid that drivers use to avoid congested main roads, many at .

These stroads are a troubled mix of : roads are through routes, and streets connect neighbourhoods socially and physically. Streets connect houses to local parks, shops and through routes, but are also public places themselves. The dual role of stroads comes at the expense of residents and their children.

Superblocks for kids can be retrofitted to existing suburbs to create safer, quieter and more play-friendly streets. They are typically about a square kilometre in area, bounded by main roads and features such as rivers. Ideally, superblocks are clustered together to provide safe access to local amenities and public transport hubs.

Everyone can still drive to their home in a superblock, but they might have to take a slightly longer, more . This can reduce traffic by nudging residents to walk and cycle short journeys within their superblock.

Various “filters” exclude through traffic. These filters include:

  • – small areas of community green space

  • – bollards, gates or planters exclude cars but allow access for walkers and cyclists

  • – used at four-way intersections

  • – open cul-de-sacs to walkers and cyclists

  • – automatic numberplate recognition or rising bollards allow bus access

  • .

The resulting superblocks are where kids play on the streets, which are quiet and easy to cross. There's shade and shelter, places to stop and rest, things to see and do, and the air is clean. People feel safe and relaxed. Neighbourhoods like this promote .

Four examples of streets that could be transformed in this way are shown below:

Lyall Street, Redcliffe, Perth

A pocket park breaks up a rat run to the airport.

The Avenue, Mount St Thomas, Wollongong

Plantings and bollards eliminate a known rat run.

Lithgow Street, Abbotsford, Melbourne

Wider kerbs make school drop-offs and pick-ups safer.

Meymot Street, Banyo, Brisbane

A pocket park and residents-only car access create a safer and quieter street.

Rat-running is a big problem

Almost twice as many cars are on Australian roads as . Coupled with the rise of satellite navigation technology, this has led to as rat runs to avoid congested main roads.

Decades of cars in Australian communities have created a serious safety issue. Overall, serious road injuries are on the . Despite small in road deaths, deaths on haven't fallen.

People on their local streets, but we know to improve safety. Preventing rat-running leads to cleaner air, less noise, safer streets and more walking, riding, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. These results all promote stronger communities.

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Everyone benefits from kid-friendly neighbourhoods

A remarkable feature of building neighbourhoods for kids is how quickly residents reoccupy their streets. People emerge from their houses to talk, their voices no longer drowned by vehicle noise. Thoroughfares become communities. Children come out to play.

As physical activity researchers, we know that getting children to move more is an urgent issue. Australian kids score a on international . Australian also have .

Neighbourhoods for kids help everyone enjoy the benefits of becoming more active. For kids, the street can and help them develop movement and independent travel for life.

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Increasing neighbourhood also boosts house prices and reduces noise pollution.

Leaving the car at home for short local trips

Superblocks make it easier for families to choose the“” for small local trips — . This and improves health.

All these small trips add up. For example, (2.8 million) of daily car trips in Perth are under 5km — a 20-minute bike ride or less. In Melbourne, . That's 3.6 million car trips a day.

Where should Australia start?

Our highlights the need to listen to communities, and kids in particular, when designing neighbourhoods.

In the vast majority of cases, any initial opposition to creating kid-friendly neighbourhoods soon . Residents see the benefits of safer and more pleasant streets for themselves and their families.

of Australians support improving their neighbourhood to help them be more active. We should start by creating neighbourhoods for the communities that need it most — those with the poorest access to green space and public transport, most through traffic and crashes, and highest levels of childhood obesity.

Get your community talking again! You can start by ! Demonstrating its success will help when asking your council for permanent changes.

The authors encourage the reuse of the re-imagined streets. They are freely available to in multiple open-access formats.

The Conversation


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