Do you sometimes think about what would make your town better?
How about… a sofa at every bus stop? A super-fast bike track that runs right from your house to school? Or imagine a playground right outside where you live, with basketball hoops and other cool games set up instead of a road full of cars?
Sound like a fairy tale? Well, think again! It can be fun to dream of making our surroundings more fun and more comfortable. But some people don’t just dream – they are making real changes in our towns and cities.
Playing in the street
Take a look at this photo above from Barcelona, in Spain. Do you see all the sports and games equipment set up? What do you recognise? And then compare that to the typical city street scene below.
It’s not hard to spot the difference! Cars seem to get everywhere in our towns. And, of course, it’s nice sometimes to be able to travel in a car. But more and more towns are finding ways to make more space for people, bikes – and play! – instead of cars.
COVID bike boom
Was there a lockdown in your town this year because of coronavirus? There were a lot fewer cars on the roads. Discovering how nice that was has made more people want to change their towns and the way they live in them.
Sales of bikes have doubled this year and European towns have announced plans to build over 2,000 kilometres of new bike tracks.
More and more streets are being closed to traffic – sometimes all the time, sometimes just at weekends. More space is being fenced off to cars to give more room for bikes and people walking – and to make it safer.
Spot the difference
Some really simple things can make a big difference.
Take a look at these 2 photos from outside a school in Milan, in Italy. Before, the square was only crossdd by cars and vans. Then the council painted it in bright colours. They said people should walk across it and made cars let them pass.
It worked brilliantly, as you can see.
Getting a move on
Less traffic means less pollution. You can also get to school quicker. Do you know how long a car takes to go a kilometre in a busy city? Over 5 minutes. People walk as far in 15. And a bike can be about twice as fast as a car in town, taking just 3 minutes to cover a kilometre. How fast do you go?
Listening to children
Do you have ideas for making your town better?
In Antwerp, in Belgium, the city council asked children how they got to school and what would help them feel safer and have more fun. The result? They changed quite a few streets, build places for kids to meet each other and play games.
So, it’s over to you. Maybe you could discuss at school what things would make the streets safer and nicer. And do let us know how your town could be better!