The MobiliseYourCity Knowledge Platform has recently published a report, "Access for All: Babies, Toddlers, and Their Caregivers", which explores the mobility needs of babies and toddlers (0-5 years old), as well as their caregivers. It provides key recommendations for stakeholders from civil society, subnational authorities, donor organisations, and national governments to take action to improve the well-being and development of babies, toddlers, and their caregivers through improving access.
More than a billion children live in cities, yet most cities have not been designed to meet the needs of babies, toddlers, and their caregivers, with mobility systems not planned with their particular travel characteristics in mind. This negatively affects a child’s physical, mental, and cognitive development, as well as increases stress for caregivers. Investing in babies and toddlers leads to lifelong benefits for them, including educational achievement, positive health outcomes, and a higher earning potential. Cities could function a lot better for babies, toddlers, and caregivers by increasing their access to the specific destinations they need for daily living through integrating land use and transportation while improving their local environment.
This report examines how to achieve this this goal. The study looks more deeply at the intricacies of daily caregiving behaviours, from basic needs to mobility characteristics. To meet the needs of babies, toddlers, and caregivers, two key frameworks are identified for enabling access:
- 15-minute neighbourhood: access to essential services and basic needs within 15 minutes
- 10-minute public transport: access to the rest of the city by way of public transport that comes at least every 10 minutes throughout the day.
The first framework recognises that caregivers have limited time, and babies and toddlers have limited ability to travel far from home and need a safe, clean, and good quality public realm nearby. The second framework is the vision for how public transport can work for caregivers travelling with babies and toddlers. The goal of both is to make it easier to care for babies and toddlers in a city and to contribute to their health and development, while lowering stress for caregivers.
A 15-minute neighbourhood is broadly understood as one where people have the ability to reach daily services that facilitate local living within 15 minutes, as well as reach public transport that connects them to the rest of the city. The five key objectives of the 15-minute neighbourhood are:
- The basics: Ensure basic utilities and public infrastructure systems that support the daily lives of families and allow for safe and convenient mobility are in place.
- Local mobility: Make walking and cycling the preferred and most comfortable mode of local travel for babies, toddlers, and those who care for them.
- Local destinations: Ensure key caregiving destinations are within walking or cycling distance of a mix of housing types, creating inclusive neighbourhoods for all families.
- Local play: Enable play by creating safe and healthy open space in the public realm.
- Local environment: Reduce environmental stressors from motor vehicles by slowing speeds, reducing car use, and shifting space from cars to people.
10-minute public transport
Ten-minute public transport is one where people have no more than a 10-minute wait for public transport that is within a walkable distance. The five key objectives of 10-minute public transport are:
- Network and service design: Ensure caregivers can travel easily, comfortably, and safely throughout the neighbourhood and city.
- Station and stop design: Plan stops and stations to be accessible and good environments for caregivers traveling with babies and toddlers.
- Safety: Improve personal security for caregivers traveling with young children.
- Fare policy: Increase accessibility and ease of use through an equitable fare policy.
- Integration: Increase accessibility and ease of use through integrated transport systems that facilitate trip planning and navigation.
These frameworks help diagnose where cities and neighbourhoods are now, identifying gaps in urban development and transport systems in meeting the needs of caregivers, babies, and toddlers and what needs to be done to improve access. Once it is understood what needs to be done, the report makes recommendations for implementing access improvements, including the processes and policies:
- Participatory planning: Plan with the community, specifically incorporating the perspectives, needs, and interests of babies, toddlers, and their caregivers into the planning process and policy frameworks.
- Data: Collect qualitative and quantitative data for care trips and travel patterns.
- Capacity building: Provide opportunities for decision makers, transport and city agencies, and operators to learn about the needs of young children and their caregivers.
- Test and revise: Produce pilots and generate community input and buy-in around programming for babies and toddlers in order to scale up larger projects.
- Scale: Implement sustainable urban development and mobility policies and programs and ensure that they are funded across government by institutionalizing the needs of caregivers, babies, and toddlers.
The recommendations in the report focus on participatory planning, data collection, capacity building, and pilots, which can lead to the implementation of inclusive and sustainable urban development and mobility frameworks.
To read the full executive summary, click here.
The full report goes into more depth about every aspect covered in the Executive Summary and offers more guidance on all the recommendations to help decision makers, policymakers, practitioners, and advocates take steps to improve access and the well-being and health of babies, toddlers, and caregivers.
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