by Emily Williams, Cycling Mayor of Inverness
Together with Crown Connects, I have been campaigning to get the Highland Council to set up a process that will allow local communities to hold playstreets – aiming to hold the first trial even in the Crown area of Inverness in September. Playstreets are where residents are granted a temporary road closure to allow their children to play out without having to worry about traffic.
For a wonderful example of what this could look like see this from Edinburgh:
Giving Children the Freedom to Play
This used to be a normal part of everyday life (1), but as roads have become busier and cars have become bigger and faster, children have become less able to safely use the road just outside their house for play. Closing the road for a short time, on a regular basis, gives children back this freedom (2)- encouraging energetic outdoor play in a semi supervised environment, giving them space right outside their front door to learn to ride a bike or play ball or whatever they want.
As well as this it gives a great opportunity for all residents to spend time outside their houses, hopefully growing some community connections (outdoor board games or just a chat over cup of tea with someone down the road you haven’t met before anyone?)
But we need the Highland Council to allow us to do this in a way that is accessible to all community groups. Currently we are trying to negotiate some hurdles to be allowed to implement our own traffic management rather than having to pay to have this done professionally, and to agree a position on what insurance is needed. We’ve been really grateful to have the support of local councillors David Gregg, Ian Brown, Kate Maclean and Michael Cameron. David asked a question in the most recent full council about this (side note, this is a excellent way to get a formal answer to a question from the council), which has committed the officers to investigating what is available in other places (3). We are still optimistic that we will be able to hold our pilot event and then use the learning from our experience to make this available to everyone across the highlands.
Let us Know What you think!
So, let us know – would you be interested in holding a play street where you live if a simple process was available to you? If you are then let us know, and speak with your local councillors to encourage them to support this proposal.