Sustrans – a national charity campaigning on greener, healthier transport options has started a new campaign to get kids playing outdoors more. A pledge form for the campaign can be found can be found at this link http://www.sustrans.org.uk/freerangekids/free-range-kids-pledge-form
BBC television presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff has become Ambassador of Sustrans’ Free Range Kids campaign. Here she explains why she is proud to be supporting the campaign.
“Last year in Great Britain 2,044 children under 15 were killed or seriously injured walking or cycling on our roads.
It’s a shocking statistic. This is the equivalent of the number of children attending ten average size primary schools. And whilst the statistics do continue to improve year on year, Britain continues to have one of the worst road safety records in Europe for child
pedestrians. So there is a debate to be had abou t how we approach road safety in the UK. Those of you who, like me, remember vividly the scary messages of road safety campaigns through the years, may wonder why children and parents should bear the bulk of the responsibility for improving road safety.
Messaging from the Department for Transport couldn’t be clearer – “children under the age of 8 have difficulty with dealing with traffic, so never let them out alone” and “don’t let your child out alone, even with an older child”. On the Think! website, children walking on pavements are advised to wear reflective clothing at all times so that car drivers can see them.
The implication is that if a child is not wearing a reflective jacket, and is injured in a collision with a car, it is somehow their fault. This is utterly inconsistent with other tragedies involving children. When we experience appalling events like Dunblane, we have a national debate about gun ownership and the responsibilities that come with this, we don’t advise children to wear bullet proof vests.
Our current approach to road safety is therefore deeply flawed. Indeed many conclude that the reason that casualties amongst children, although still unacceptably high, have declined is that parents have simply chosen to remove children from the streets in their communities completely. As a result children playing, or out on their bikes, have become a rare sight in our communities.
The time has come for a different approach, and we must tackle the source of danger and reduce traffic speeds in residential and urban areas to 20mph, and invest far more in creating safe walking and cycling routes, to school and beyond. If we don’t our children will be denied the freedom we enjoyed, and miss out on so much that makes childhood special. My own childhood was free range. In my early teens I cycled everywhere -15 miles to friends, to do the weekly shop when my mum was ill, you name it I did it. And when I wasn’t on my bike you’d still find me outdoors. It was my natural habitat. That’s why I am supporting Sustrans Free Range Kids campaign, and why I am signing the pledge. And my commitment to all of you who also sign the pledge is to ensure that we use it effectively to highlight to politicians locally and nationally, that they must do far more to create child friendly communities.
With your help we can put freedom back at the heart of childhood to the benefit of us all.”
(Miranda Krestovnikoff, Free Range Kids Ambassador)