The Importance of Child Care Within Walking Distance

In honor of International Walk to School Day, we’re going to look at a post from Minnesota’s Twin Cities about what you might call Wouldn’t It Be Great If You Could Walk Your Kid to Preschool Day.

Streetsblog Network member Net Density makes the excellent point that for parents of preschool-age children, having child care within a quarter-mile of their homes can be the make-or-break factor in whether they choose an active commute (by foot, bike, or transit).

After some impressive number-crunching, the blog’s author comes up with the conclusion that only between 13 and 16 percent of people in Minneapolis-St. Paul live within that distance of adequate child care options. Which makes for a planning challenge:

2CCBlocks_300x231.jpgMost people don’t make housing decisions based on child care
access, so depending on what you can afford, and where you want to
locate, good child care access may or may not be available in your area.

So as planners and policy makers trying to leverage the multiple
benefits of a non-auto commute (health, environmental, social), what
role do we have in trying to improve this access? Or, in other words,
how can we address this barrier and allow more people to get active? What tools can we use to do so?

Anyone out there want to step forward with some ideas? We’re listening.

More from the network: Cincy Streetcar Blog has an excellent photo essay that makes a case against Issue 9, an anti-passenger rail initiative on the ballot in that city this fall. Bicycle Ambassadors demonstrates some justified pride about Philadelphia’s bike commute numbers. And Portlandize takes on the question of who pays for bike infrastructure — and auto infrastructure.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Transit Oriented Development should incentiveize the location of Child Care Centers in close proximity to transit stops.

  • CL

    I can’t offer a solution, but as a carfree parent of a 9 month old I can say this is absolutely true for us. The difficulty of transporting a child on public transit everyday during rush hour seems impossible, and since there are no daycare centers for children under 2 years in our otherwise very walkable, transit heavy neighborhood we would either have to hire a nanny (which would be a huge expense for us) or buy a car if we were both working full-time. Although many factors went into my choice to stay home, I can’t help but wonder if high quality, affordable childcare in our neighborhood would have altered the decision.

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