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Children's Mobility Put to the Test on the Street. Impacts of Zones 30 on their Behaviour

Florence Hughenin-Richard

In many cases, urban planning of public spaces aims at “pacifying” automobile traffic in such a way as to improve the living environment (less noise, less pollution), to achieve a more equitable sharing of the street amongst its various users and, above all, to provide a high level of security for those who are the most vulnerable. This development is to be seen in the speed- controlled “Zones 30,” which are widespread in French cities. The question we ask in the present article is whether, by reducing the speed and the number of automobiles, we are also making a positive contribution to the issues linked to sustainable transportation, including that of promoting walking per se. And what impact does it have on the more specific problem of child mobility which, as we know is essentially characterized by a low level of independent urban displacement and a major dependence on car travel? In other words, does the introduction into the neighborhood of a Zone 30 allow children to move around more autonomously, to walk more? To answer this question a series of non-participant observations were carried out in different Zone 30 areas in Paris.