Safe Streets for Little Feet

Physical activity is vital for our health. We are more likely to be active every day if our neighbourhoods are well designed and maintained, easy to walk and cycle around and safe streets are provided for little feet.

Why be active?

Masterhead Image For July NewsletterPhysical activity is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle for both children and adults. It helps our kids stay healthy, gain confidence and learn the skills they need to stay active for life. Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. They can get this anywhere – at home and school, getting from place to place, playing in the weekends, and in the community.

Do you live in an activity-friendly community?

There are plenty of ways to be active in daily life, like walking to the shops or biking or scooting to school. It is easier to do this in some neighbourhoods than others. Is your local neighbourhood ‘activity-friendly’, particularly for children? Is it safe and enjoyable to walk, cycle or scooter? Is it easy to walk or cycle to the shops, schools, buses or parks? If so, you are living in an activity-friendly community.

Activity-friendly communities have:

  • Wide level footpaths and pedestrian crossings where needed
  • Pleasing streets with trees or flower plantings
  • Low speed limits in built up areas and around schools
  • Speed bumps to slow traffic in built up areas
  • Cycle paths
  • Cycle racks close to amenities such as libraries, railway stations and shops 
  • Good street lighting.
  • Children’s playgrounds with modern well maintained equipment
  • Grassy open spaces and parks
  • Shady areas for playing and resting on sunny days
  • Sheltered areas for protection on rainy days
  • Benches for rest stops
  • Drinking water taps or fountains
  • On-leash and off-leash dog walking areas.

Put your neighbourhood to the test and rate the active transport and recreation facilities in your area using a checklist from The Parents Jury in Australia. Download the checklist here.

How to make your community more activity-friendly

If there are things in your community that need improving, become a Parent Champion and get things changed.

Write to your mayor and local council

You are more likely to spend time outside being physically active if your neighbourhood is well designed and maintained. This is the job of local councils. Tell them about:

  • Areas you think need improvement
  • New facilities that would help you become more physically active.

A good way to do this is to make a submission on your city’s Annual Plan.

Talk with other parents and community groups

  • Go to coffee mornings and preschool groups
  • Visit local preschools, primary and secondary schools
  • Contact local community associations and community boards
  • Discuss what is needed and how to support each other
  • Work together to advocate for change.

Be an activity role model

Children learn a lot of behaviours from parents, so if you enjoy daily physical activity and active transport, your children will too. Walking around your neighbourhood is a great way to meet people and find favourite parks, shops and playgrounds. Check out:

If it has been a while since you were on a bike, adult cycle skills classes are available in several cities. There are also events to celebrate walking and cycling.

Join active transport advocacy organisations

Active transport 

If you walk or cycle from place to place, such as the shops or school, you are using ‘active transport’.

Active transport has many benefits in your everyday life:

  • More physical activity in your day 
  • Less traffic congestion, noise and pollution in your local area
  • Safer environment around schools and preschools 
  • Your children enjoy the social aspect of walking or cycling with family and friends 
  • You feel more a part of the local community
  • You teach your child essential road safety skills 
  • You spend quality time with your children each day 
  • And with rising petrol prices, you can save money too.

Road safety

Activity friendly communities help children move safely around their neighbourhoods and advocate for safer roads. Parents, you may be surprised to learn that children face a greater potential risk from vehicle accidents outside school than they do from stranger danger.

Injury to child pedestrians aged 0–14 years is a major cause of traffic related child deaths in New Zealand. Preschoolers are the most at risk, but child pedestrians of any age can be hurt or killed on the road, particularly at peak times in the hours before and after school.

So, safe roads around schools and teaching children about road safety is vitally important.

Helpful Links

Check out these active transport and active community websites for more information and inspiration.

Active families

Active transport

Active living