New research commissioned by UK walking charity, Living Streets has revealed that 60 per cent of children aged 4-11 never play out on their local street according to their parents – up from 50 per cent a decade ago.

The YouGov poll asked parents with children aged 4-11 whether their local street was a safe and welcoming place that their child could enjoy, over a third (36%) disagreed.

People were asked what the most noticeable changes to their local streets have been since they were a child, the vast majority said higher traffic volume (74%).

It comes after Department for Transport figures revealed an increase in child pedestrian fatalities last year, from 38 per cent to 58 per cent.

Play street

It comes after Department for Transport figures revealed an increase in child pedestrian fatalities last year, from 38 per cent to 58 per cent.

Jenni Wiggle, Senior Director, Living Streets said:

“We want families to feel happy to let their children play out on their local streets so they can enjoy being active and making friends, but that won’t happen without change.

“We’re paying the price for our car-dependency with rising inactivity, congestion and air pollution. Encouraging people out of their cars for those short, everyday journeys can reduce the amount of traffic on our streets and start to transform our streets into cleaner, safer and more welcoming places for people of all ages."

Slower speeds save lives, that’s why we want to see 20mph limits where children play, live and go to school.

Jenni Wiggle, Senior Director, Living Streets

The research also revealed that over a third of people (34%) know no more than two of their neighbours, of which nine per cent know none of them. 

Less contact with neighbours (61%), fewer local shops (57%) and a rise in anti-social behaviour (56%) were other noticeable changes people reported about their local streets since they were a child.

The research was carried out by Living Streets, formerly the Pedestrians Association, to mark their 90th anniversary. The charity’s ambitions as it heads towards its centenary include a lower default speed limit of 20mph for roads in built up areas; a revision of the Highway Code to improve safety for people walking and cycling; and a network of walking routes in every town and city.

Jenni Wiggle continues:  

Last year there were 1,782 people killed on our roads, far too many. Back in 1929 when Living Streets was formed, the figure was a staggering 6,696 people – over half of them pedestrians.

“We are proud of the part our predecessors played in introducing measures which saved many lives, including the urban speed limit, the driving test and pedestrian crossings. However, there is still a way to go to ensure our streets are safe and our communities are friendly and thriving.”

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[1] YouGov research for Living Streets. July 2019. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2039 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th - 17th July 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[2] Opinion Matters research for Living Streets. July 2009.

[3] Whilst child fatalities were same as the previous year (48), there was an increase in the number of these which were pedestrians. In 2017, 38 per cent of child fatalities were pedestrians but last year this rose to over half (58%). Department for Transport, July 2019.