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Corridors for children and young people

When planning places with children and young people in mind, it is important to see both their needs and agency.
Young people friends walking in the city, a group of teenagers talking smiling having fun in the city, view from the back. Friendship and people concept in a lovely green city.
© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility

When planning places with children and young people in mind, it is important to see both their needs and agency.

Interacting with the local environment in a range of ways

Children and young people interact with their local environment on a daily basis and are more likely to express confidence and competence in spaces in which they are familiar and comfortable.

It is important to encourage active mobility in public spaces for a range of benefits including physical and mental health from an active lifestyle, developing personal attachments to places, and developing competence in navigating and engaging with public spaces.

Barriers to children’s use of public spaces such as green corridors include:

  • increasing reliance on cars for transport
  • perceptions of social risk to children
  • environmental risks of being exposed to the weather, heat and radiation
  • urban planning decisions that affect the proximity and accessibility of green spaces
  • the aesthetics of a place.

Langenheim et. al. (2020, 2) write:

Minimising these barriers is therefore a critical issue and one which can be in part, addressed through development of performance-based, spatially explicit design methods for strategic placement and selection of trees.

Designing urban corridors for children and young people

Peak times for the use of green corridors for mobility often correspond with the beginning and end of the school day. There are methods to determine the optimal landscape design, including tree species and configuration, near a school to create a green corridor to support active transport.

Langenheim et. al. (2020) propose a design approach that centres on a school and combines modelling of pedestrian access to the school, shade modelling of tree types and configurations, and shade optimisation.

The authors articulate their seven-step design approach:

  • The definition of the ten-minute walking catchment around the two schools using the pedestrian accessibility catchment calculator ‘PedestrianCatch’.
  • The street network of the catchment is then classified by orientation and width, and intersection models are created for each classification.
  • In the intersection models’ lines of trees are placed into the optimal position of the available placement options within the street casement to provide footpath shade at 15.30.
  • Depending on the street orientation and tree placement option, optimal tree form models are then selected and placed along the tree lines at a spacing which maximises shade.
  • The tree form models are then ‘fitted’ to a preferred species list of trees, known to do well in the harsh soil and climatic conditions of the area.
  • The tree form models are then replaced with, polygon-dense, visually realistic recursive tree models of selected species from the preferred list.
  • The lines of tree models are then used to output a shade map using the texture baking technique at approximately children’s head height (1.2 m). The shade map is then taken into the pedestrian accessibility analysis model and pedestrian ‘agents’ sample these shade maps as they move along the street with a given exposure time of three minutes.

The design approach identifies key considerations and information needed to design urban corridors to support children’s and young people’s active mobility.

Academic references (Abstract only free to the public)

  • Langenheim, N., White, M., Tapper, N., Livesley, S. J., and Ramirez-Lovering, D., (2020), ‘Right tree, right place, right time: A visual-functional design approach to select and place trees for optimal shade benefit to commuting pedestrians’, Sustainable Cities and Society, 52:101816, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2019.101816.
  • Porter, L., Spark, C. and de Kleyn, L., (2021), ‘Navigating the neighbourhood: gender, place and agency in children’s mobility’, Children’s Geographies, 19:3.

In the next step, you will hear from Dr Wenwen Cheng the Landscape Architecture at the University of Oklahoma on modelling and specific needs associated with thermal comfort for children and young athletes.

© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
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