Britain to have new rules for kids to play safely in streets

The days when kids could play in the streets outside their homes is set to return in Britain with a change in rules, the government announced Friday.

In a former age of low car ownership, children playing games in the mainly traffic-free streets where they lived was commonplace.

Now the Department for Transport (DfT) wants to see a revival of children playing in the streets, with new guidance to make it easier to close streets for community events.

The new rules will make it easier for residents who want to turn their quiet neighborhood roads into occasional ‘play streets’.

“Play streets, where roads are closed to allow for small events and sports, are not only good for children’s health and happiness, they give them a sense of belonging and encourage other residents to get together, creating greater community cohesion,” said the DfT.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “A generation ago, it was common to see young people playing out in the street but today it can be a rare sight.”

Alice Ferguson, director of the charity Playing Out which supports the street play movement, said: “Children need the chance to play out freely near home, as was the norm a generation ago. Heavy traffic and other conditions have made this increasingly difficult.”

“We hope we will see many more children having the chance to play out and make friends on their own streets and estates over the coming years,” she noted, adding “Long term, we want children to be safe to play out every day, without intervention, for their health, happiness and sense of belonging. This announcement is a great first step towards that.”

Jenni Wiggle from the charity Living Streets said: “Removing traffic from our streets creates a safer environment and improves local air quality, which can help families feel happier to let their children play out. Not only does this mean that children can enjoy being more active and sociable, our streets transform into cleaner, safer and more welcoming places for people of all ages.”

Until now, the process for making Play Street Orders has been a costly barrier for parents, but the DfT has found an easier way to help people create regular play streets.