We recently holidayed in Cornwall, on a farm that had converted several old buildings to holiday homes and gradually built new buildings. It’s a lovely place; the farm is still working so there’s plenty of opportunity for children to feed the animals in the morning and go on nature trails.
It’s clear that families are a big customer segment, with nearly thirty houses on site. There’s a playground, a soft play area and a store from which forgetful parents can borrow a bucket and spade for the day. Naturally, children run around the place with little care for any consequences. Yet despite so many families coming and going during the day and the resulting traffic movements on and off the complex, this doesn’t cause any problem for small children.
The reason is that people are happy to not park right outside their homes. An exception is made for loading and unloading, but after this there’s an understanding that cars belong in the car park. And this isn’t an issue, despite the car being used every day (unlike at home). A walk of a minute with bags, beach paraphernalia and children on traffic-free paths simply isn’t a problem. The roads also lend themselves to dead slow driving. Narrow, weaving, paths and the odd sharp corner with prominent signs stating that children are roaming.
This leaves the paths free to walk on and for children to play on. Bikes were ridden, scooters were scooted and skateboards skated. Best of all, children were free to charge around the place and let off steam. We didn’t have to worry about whether they’d be run over, we could simply let them shoot off to the playground and catch up at a sensible pace.
This approach isn’t difficult to replicate. Yet we still build new developments with space for driving and barely any space for families. Houses seemingly must have space for parking, where a communal car park would be a better solution. There are, of course, issues to be resolved. It’s far easier to wash a car that’s outside one’s house, for a start. But it doesn’t have to be the norm that houses must have space for a car attachment. Removing the motor traffic makes the pace more human, whether on foot or bicycle.