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Pavement play

Pavements are strips of public land, owned by all of us, safe from traffic and right where we live. Why wouldn’t we use them for play!

group of children chalking

A hundred years ago, residential streets were shared spaces used by horses, carts, bicycles, a growing number of cars (still pretty low in 1920) and by adults and children to walk, meet and play.

As car traffic grew over the decades and streets became less safe, people of all ages were pushed to the sides. But still, in the 80s and earlier, children were very visible out on pavements – and in streets when they were quiet and safe – playing, talking and living.

Over recent decades, residential streets have become far more car dominated and dangerous. And this, along with other complex reasons, has led to children’s lives becoming far more inactive and indoors.

Reclaiming pavements for play

Pavement play is one easy way that you can start to reverse this cycle and reclaim a bit of public space for children to play, right on thechild chalking street in front of your house or around your flats. You will know what is safe for your children – what age to be out there with them, when to let them be out alone. When to say ‘never go into the street’, or when they are old enough to know, perhaps because they are walking to school alone. These ages will be different for everyone.

Pavement play is also something you can arrange informally with other parents where you live, taking it in turns to supervise or sitting out together with a cup of tea. Being out is also a nice way to connect with other neighbours and to start to feel differently about where you live.

If this doesn’t feel safe or right, or you want to get together with other parents to take action and make things safer, then why not think about organising a play street on your road or estate, or even campaigning for safer streets.