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CHILDREN'S INDEPENDENT MOBILITY A child-oriented perspective on walking, playing and socialising in Aguablanca District. Cali, Colombia
Informed by broad social assumptions, transport planning has traditionally obliged to the travel needs of the average (Vasconcellos, 2001; Levy, 2013b). In this process, children’s imaginaries and aspirations have been overlooked and dominated by an adult world were mobility is regarded as going from A to B efficiently. Challenging this view, this research considers children’s mobility as a practice that involves walking, playing and socialising, and the means by which children ‘perceive, feel and act in the world’ (Lester and Russell, 2010). Thus, it recognises that children’s everyday pedestrian practices matter, and that broader independence significantly contributes to their well-being and participation in urban life. Given the lack of attention to children’s independent mobility and play in the global south, this study analyses their impressions in a low-income neighbourhood in Cali, Colombia. Through a socio-ecological framework that incorporates the concepts of attachment and affordance, the study explores independent licence, walking perceptions and experiences, community ties and sociability. Findings suggest that in this context, independence is at constant negotiation between children, parents and household dynamics. In this sense, while children have high levels of independence for essential journeys, their freedom to roam, play and socialise is more restricted. Both road safety and the changing circumstances in the social environment, in terms of high levels crime and violence are crucial determinants in their participation in the neighbourhood. Policies should promote greater freedom and playability through strategies that facilitate rich social and physical affordances, and focus community engagement and appropriation of the street.

Shared with the World by Elangkathir Duhindan

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