They are a far cry from the Robert Doisneau cliché of children who play carelessly in the street, walk on the sidewalk on hand and scavenge for bread like adults. In recent decades, the street has become for parents a place of all danger. So much so that, everywhere in Europe, the independence of the movement of children has decreased dramatically since the end of the 1990s.
On the basis of this observation, in 2015, a group of associations (National Association of Councils for Children and Youth, Cafézoïde, rue des Mustaqbal and Vivacité Île-de-France) decided to support and accompany “Streets for Children” initiatives, particularly in working-class neighbourhoods. Inspired by the Streets of Play developed in New York and the UK, these events aim to allow children to play on the temporarily closed street, in complete safety.
This Sunday, for the first time, Bagneux closes part of one of its main hubs to traffic to organize a “street for children, avenue for all”. “Two years ago we won the national collective projects invitation ‘Rue aux enfants, rue pour tous,'” a type of poster that requires very precise specifications with the organization of entertainment and games for children on a street that is usually open to traffic; explains Estelle Garson of the Alternative and Citizen Resource Group (CRAC) in Bagneux.
150 children’s streets built in France
Thus, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., rue Henri Barbusse (between 10 and Pharmacy Madeleine) will be closed to motor vehicles to allow the youngest to discover their environment, the street, in complete safety and peace. The public space in a fun and festive way. Many associations in the city will suggest animators along this path of more than 300 meters. Circus arts, cycling, skateboarding or even wheelchairs, petanque, reading, catering, archery, boxing, martial arts, percussion workshops, but also gardening or spotting growing plants On the sidewalks…
“We had the idea of organizing this during the opening of the boulevard which has been closed for too long for the metro project. The event will allow people to meet their neighbors and their children to connect with their streets in a different way. Because it’s not just a matter of independence, it also shows them that we can do something other than video games, that with a piece of chalk, we can have fun, have a party, and if you look carefully, you’ll spot wild plants, you can play jump rope, and there’s a lot of things that can Do them on the street at a lower cost and during the activity … ”confirms Estelle Garson.
In the province, the city of Issy-les-Moulineaux has pioneered the development of an annual program entitled “Streets for Children” since 2017. It was also organized by Nanterre in 2021. Since 2019, about twenty such events have been organized in Ile-de-France. Other independent initiatives have also emerged, such as in Boulogne-Billancourt which has taken the pedestrian route on Boulevard Jean-Jaurès since 2016.
We have launched three calls for projects in 2015, 2017 and 2019 allowing the creation of more than 150 children’s streets in France due to the frequent renewal of initiatives from year to year. In addition, many initiatives, apart from calling for projects, have been implemented on a regular basis, notably in Paris and Lille,” the collective team rejoices in a press release.
A new pedestrian and plant-based mall opened on Saturday
The temporary lane created between rue Gabriel-Cosson and rue Jean-Longuet, during the closure of rue Henri-Barbusse associated with work on Line 4, has been completely planted. The new René-Rousseau Center is open this Saturday from 2pm. In addition to sports initiatives and shows. It will serve as a green link between Parc Robespierre (reactivated at the end of the work in line 15) and Square du 19 mars 1962 via Parc Cosson. 40 trees including fruit trees, 500 shrubs and 4000 perennials and herbs were planted. It is crossed by a pedestrian bike path and to cool off the traffic around the mall, the speed of the adjacent streets will be limited to 30 km/h. This site, which will host sports equipment as well as table tennis tables, has been named “Terre de jeux” for the upcoming Olympic Games.