A little weekend viewing from the west coast of England. Since the summer of 2009, neighbors in Bristol have organized “Playing Out” events on seven streets, setting aside car-free hours for kids to play in the street without constant parental supervision. Watching this video immediately brought to mind Clarence’s Streetfilm of the 78th Street play street in Jackson Heights.
The Bristol moms behind “Playing Out” have put together a stellar web site laying out the case for car-free time on residential streets. I especially like their answer to the question: “Why do children need to play in the street when there are parks nearby?”
Parks are great for family outings and for older children who can get there independently but, unless you happen to live right next to a park, it usually involves a special trip, escorted and supervised by adults. Street play is very different. Firstly, it is literally on the doorstep so children can play ‘semi-supervised’ whilst parents get on with other things. This allows for more free, unstructured play, without being under the constant gaze of adults. Secondly, it is a step towards greater independence, giving both children and parents more confidence to gradually extend their ‘freedom to roam’, leading to children eventually being able to get to parks and other local places by themselves.