What Children And Parents Want From Streets For Children’s Independent Walk To School: Bornova Case (Izmir)
At increasing level in urban areas, children have passive lifestyles. Increasing number of car ownership and decreasing size of public open spaces in contrast to technology-driven and attractive in-door activities, parents’ threatened sense of safety about public spaces limit children’s outdoor activities. Meanwhile, a practical way to adopt outdoor physical activity in children's daily life is expected to enable them to commute to school by walking. Yet besides this assumption, this study relies on the argument that children’s expectations about their environment should be investigated to develop design policies about children’s open space use. This study compares children’s to their parents’ perceptions and expectations about children’s independent walk to school and about public spaces and streets they want. Driven from our surveys with 244 students (8-11 years old) and their parents at two schools of two neighborhoods in Bornova (Izmir), we analyze the results in terms of perceived distance to school, safety (with vehicular traffic, strangers vs. crowd, kind of land uses) and landscape and aesthetic elements at streets. Study findings underline that there are differences between children’s and parents’ perceptions and expectations about physical characteristics of school surroundings and open spaces. While parents concern mostly about child’s safety due to people and vehicular traffic, children want mostly accessible (e.g. wide sidewalks), “aesthetically” attractive and “fun” streets and more parks and trees on the way to their school. Considering these differences, we propose certain design solutions for safe, aesthetically attractive and fun open spaces in school surroundings.