Designing Streets for Kids

Oct 20, 2020, 11:56 AM

To ensure that our streets are safe and welcoming to younger generations, have you ever considered looking at cities through the eyes of a child? This strategy is what fuels “Streets for Kids”—the newest programme of NACTO’s Global Designing Cities Initiative.


Launched in 2014 by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), the Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI) focuses on transforming streets to inspire safe, sustainable, and healthy cities. Their most recent publication, Designing Streets for Kids, highlights strategies, programmes and policies that cities around the world have used to design spaces that enable children of all ages and abilities to use cities’ most abundant asset – streets. The guide makes design recommendations and highlights case studies that encourage streets to be safe, enjoyable, and inspirational for children and their caregivers. Since the publication’s launch in 2020, NACTO-GDCI has begun to apply these child-focused strategies in 12 cities around the world through streetscape transformations, workshops, and trainings.

Promoting safe cycling facilities and experiences

When designing streets for children, improved and independent mobility — as well as the provision of quality public space — must be the fundamental goals and outcomes. Cycling has a key role to play in promoting independent mobility, and it can also be a safe, healthy, fun, and inspirational mode of transport. Designing Streets for Kids offers detailed guidance on street design and cycling infrastructure, and providing safe cycling facilities is one of the key steps highlighted in “Ten Actions to Improve Streets for Children.”



Key design and implementation questions are answered throughout Designing Streets for Kids, such as:

-How can neighbourhoods encourage cycling as a form of mobility for children? By including a comprehensive cycle network that is planned, designed, and implemented across all streets and intersections.

-How should cities plan cycling networks? They should be safe, connected, comfortable, and direct. Supporting elements such as bicycle parking, signals, cycle share, and other design details are critical to contribute to a network that works for people of all ages and abilities.

-What are vital components of cycling infrastructure? A comprehensive cycling experience for kids should include elements such as safe intersections, protected facilities and complete networks.


With detailed guidance that also includes practical visuals and best practice examples from cities around the world, Designing Streets for Kids is a supplement to the widely-acclaimed Global Street Design Guide, which set a new global standard for designing urban streets that prioritise pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders.


“Reliable mobility options and access to safe, healthy streets is a human right,” says Skye Duncan, Director of NACTO-GDCI. “The global principles outlined in Designing Streets for Kids can be a valuable tool in helping city leaders and communities ensure that kids have the space they need to explore, connect, and move safely around their environment.”


To download the guide, we encourage you to visit Global Designing Cities Initiative’s website