New study presents ways to improve urban mobility in early years

Published July 8, 2021

Moving around a city can be an opportunity for children to explore, get to know and connect with that city. Accessible, safe and playful public spaces contribute to the integral development of children and the well-being of their caregivers.

In order to deeply understand the relationship between urban mobility and the main aspects that impact early childhood development and the quality of life of babies, toddlers and their caregivers, ITDP Brazil conducted a study in the municipality of Recife between 2019 and 2020, with the support of the Bernard van Leer Foundation and the Recife Planning and Management Secretariat (SEPLAG/PCR).

Photo: Courtesy of Jacob Krupnick/Wild Combination

The study is called “First steps: urban mobility in early years” and has the city of Recife in Brazil as the research scenario, with findings that can be applied globally. The material unfolds in two reports and an executive summary, as well as an infographic presenting possible changes in the bus system (all in Portuguese).

The first report addresses the caregivers’ perspective on the direct and indirect impacts of the quality of urban space on children’s lives. The second report discusses in more detail the obstacles and points of attention brought to light by caregivers regarding the bus system as a whole, as well as the opportunities and challenges for public sector actors and transport operators who work with urban mobility and early years agendas. The study shows that in order to have cities better prepared to welcome the early years, it is necessary to plan, execute, monitor and evaluate mobility policies and projects in a coordinated and transversal way.

The way children move around cities has a major impact on their development.
At this stage, caregivers play a central role in their lives, being the main responsible for routine activities. In Recife, the majority of trips made for work or educational purpose are done using public transport or on foot (71% for work and 82% for education). . Traveling with babies and children takes more time and planning, and it requires twice as much attention and care.