UK health minister Anne Milton is talking about enacting “play streets” across the country to help tackle its childhood obesity problem.
Milton has discussed closing certain streets on Sundays as part of a national effort to get kids and families moving, provide more space for kids to play, and set aside regular time for neighbors to convene and socialize.
But the proposal is drawing its share of criticism, particularly from motoring groups. Association of British Drivers' chairman Brian Gregory, told Autoblog UK, "It's not so long ago that the government assured us it was ending the war on the motorist. We pay several times over to use our roads, not be banned from them.”
Says Claire Armstrong, spokeswoman for Safe Speed, "It may also deprive many people, including those without children, from having proper, necessary and rightful access [to roads] when there are such few alternatives.” Sign our online petition to express your support for play streets and to convince the opposition that a countrywide initiative does not have to infringe on motorists’ rights!
Photo courtesy of PlayingOut.net.
While play streets would benefit any neighborhood, they would prove particularly beneficial to disadvantaged neighborhoods that lack parks and playgrounds for their children. While I certainly support increased access to parks, play streets represent a much more accessible, affordable, and immediate means of providing children with a place to play.
Clearly, play streets alone will not solve the childhood obesity crisis, nor will they alone suffice when it comes to ensuring that our kids get their recommended daily allotment of 60 minutes of outdoor play. But they *can* be part of the solution.
I understand that play streets have the potential to inconvenience motorists, but am confident they can be organized in such a way so as to ensure minimal disruptions to traffic. To pit the interests of motorists against the interests of children only does a disservice to our communities at large. Whether or not we have children of our own, we *all* have a vested interest in health and happiness of our country's youth.
The UK has an opportunity to set an important precedent for other countries and cities to follow; let's join forces to show Ms. Milton our support!