Family Fun: Making active travel inclusive for families

Seminar Report

Thursday 11th June 2020

Location – Webinar, Blackboard Collaborate

This event was the eleventh event in our series. Speakers discussed how we can encourage active travel within family groups across Greater Manchester. 

Professor Alison Stenning from Newcastle University spoke about her work looking at the Playing Out movement which began in 2009. Over 1,000 streets across more than 80 UK local authorities. These sessions are short, regular and licenced road closures to create a safe space for neighbours to meet and children to play. These streets reported that children had learned new skills as a result of Playing Out, including riding a bike or scooting, and created an appetite within the local communities for quieter streets in general. When children and adults have the chance to be with each other and build connections to their immediate environments, they develop an appreciation of their local green spaces and make commitments to their communities through other kinds of activities. 

Chris Leaky from Bambino Biking spoke about how his experience of cycling as a family led to the creation of Bambino Biking. Over the years he has amassed a huge amount of knowledge around cycling with children, including the best kinds of bikes to introduce children to cycling across different age groups. He also discussed the common barriers people face when considering cycling with their children. He suggests that developing your own preferred network of cycle routes (canals, looplines, etc) can often go a long way to breaking down these barriers. He also talked about the high cost of a bike (the biggest barrier to many) depends on your perception, as cycling can often work out more affordable when you see it as both a leisure and transport mode. 

Dr Gill Pomfret from Sheffield Hallan University talked about her research looking at the growth in family adventure activity and its impact on wellbeing. She took a whole family qualitative approach, and using semi-structured interviews spoke to 15 families about their experiences. Her observations included the notion of “togetherness”, which often comes from a shared communication, decision making and co-creating experiences – away from the distractions at home. Outdoor activities also provide the opportunity to push children out of their comfort zone (in a safe way), and often leads to the co-creation of memories and narratives, which are important to families. 

As always the Q&A provided some exciting discussion around the promotion of active travel and families. Questions were asked around the importance of temporary infrastructure measures for active travel during lockdown, and the blurry lines in active travel when it comes to utility and leisure activities. To find out more you can listen to the Q&A session below.