Memorandum by the Children's Play Council
The Children's Play Council welcomes the broad
thrust of the Government's Integrated Transport White Paper. In
particular, the document recognises the damaging impact of road
traffic growth on society, including children, and contains useful
strategies for reversing this damage.
The Council is particularly pleased to note
the White Paper's support for piloting the "home zone"
design mode for residential streets, which has successfully used
in many European countries to create genuine "streets for
people"where children can play, neighbours can meet
and chat in comfort and the car driver is a guest. Home zones
embody many of the core ideals of the White Paperstriking
a better balance between drivers and other road users, creating
a better environment, promoting sustainable transport choices.
They could be said to bring the issue of car dependence literally
to people's front doors.
In Europe, the `home zone' model incorporates
legal measures to give priority to pedestrians. The Department
of Environment, Transport and the Regions has stated that road
traffic legislation does not allow such measures to be introduced
by highway authorities in the UK. The Council believes that such
powers would be very helpful, if not vital, for successful introduction
in the UK. Over 200 MPs, who have signed Helen Brinton MP's EDM
on the issue, agree. Hence we would be keen for the Select Committee
to explore the need for new legislation.
On the question of traffic growth, the Council
(as a supporter of both Road Traffic Reduction Bills) is disappointed
that the White Paper was not more ambitious in its aim. There
are already too many cars on the roads. And for the sake of giving
children the freedom that they deserve to move around their localities,
we must reduce the level of motor vehicle traffic. We would ask
the Committee to press the Government on the importance of setting
targets that aim to achieve real reductions.
Finally, the Council welcomes the White Paper's
proposal to conduct a national review of speed limits. Speed is
relevant to many of the White Paper's concerns, including quality
of life, road safety, modal use and pollution, as cogently argued
by the recently-established Slower Speeds Initiative. In both
urban and rural areas, constant streams of cars are travelling
at speed a few feet from people's front doors, severing communities
and isolating residentsespecially those without access
to the car, such as children and many older people. The Council
is keen to see this review deliver real benefits, and asks the
Committee to explore in more detail the Government's plans.
Children's Play Council