You Can’t Have Family-Friendly Cities Without Kid-Friendly Streets

Playing road hockey in Vancouver. Photo:
Playing road hockey in Vancouver. Photo: Pete/Flickr

More American cities are making room for people to live in downtown areas — even smaller cities like Tucson, Cleveland and Fort Wayne, Indiana. But generally the target demographics are young singles and empty nesters. A lot of cities assume that all parents who can move to the suburbs will do so.

Writer Darin Givens, who lives with his wife and young children in downtown Atlanta, says it doesn’t need to be that way. There are now between 5,600 and 7,000 kids living in downtown Vancouver, he writes in a post at Medium. He explains how the city went about making a downtown that works for parents and kids:

Vancouver’s Chief Planner from 2006 to 2012 says there are three elements of family-friendly city design that helped out: bigger housing, amenities for families, and a safe, welcoming public realm (emphasis ours).

As a Downtown Atlanta father of a school-aged kid, I can vouch for those ideas.

We picked the one spot where we could find one of the precious few spacious (by Downtown standards, not by suburban standards) apartments near public space and greenery. The neighborhood could use a lot more of those.

Safe and welcoming? Downtown Atlanta can stand to make some big improvements there.

The advice comes from a Brent Toderian interview at Vox that’s worth reading in full. But much of downtown Atlanta, where Givens lives, is dominated by parking lots — not the kind of amenities that attract families.

More recommended reading today: TransitCenter has an update on Denver’s renewed attention to improving bus service and walking access to transit. And Green Caltrain reports that Palo Alto is planning to hike commuter parking fees to fund transit and other service to reduce driving, but the price would still be far less than the price for equivalent transit passes.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Is Your City a Great Place to Raise Kids? Could It Be?

|
Jennifer Langston of the Sightline Institute in Seattle has so far published eight articles in a series called Family-Friendly Cities. She shows that while Seattle has a lower share of the population under age 15 than the rest of the state of Washington, that gap is closing. The number of kids in Seattle is growing far […]

If Walmart Urbanizes Its Headquarters, What’s Next for Its Stores?

|
The Washington Post reports that Walmart, the retail behemoth whose name is synonymous with big-box sprawl, is looking to attract young people to work at its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. To make that happen, the company is investing in amenities to make its hometown — population 40,000 — more urban. To remain competitive, the Post says, Walmart must draw professionals “who might […]

How Do "Best Cities for Families" Rankings Get It So Wrong?

|
City rankings that purport to reveal the best place to raise a family are ubiquitous. Where I live, in northeast Ohio, it’s the homogeneous, sprawling suburbs that tend to be very proud of their positions on these lists. Bradley Calvert at Family Friendly Cities examined the key criteria used by Apartment List to develop its “best […]