Children’s rights in local government transport policies: getting it right through shifting conventions
The private car is currently the most dominant form of transport among families with school- aged children, yet we lack transport policies that address children’s mobility equity issues. On the contrary, many transport policies consider the lack of car ownership as a disadvantage, as opposed to developing strategies to reinforce and utilise this position towards more socially inclusive and environmentally just mobilities. In the context of Western social norms, car-based mobilities of children are generally seen as unavoidable outcomes of our modern society. In order to disrupt these views, we need transport policies that fully recognise the equitable access to affordable sustainable mobility for all age groups. This paper explores the general assumptions that guide various local government transport policies and social practices including the expectation that children are best accompanied by their parents (generally in a car) to be safe from car traffic when accessing everyday services. It articulates how this neo-liberal view counteracts with children’s basic rights to have access to places that support their needs for learning and playing and participating in civic life. Finally, the paper aims to emphasise the importance of transport as a social function, in re-shifting the centre of expectations and responsibilities for children’s mobility, from individuals and cars to the wider society through more sustainable means. This is in light of the view that cars don’t afford freedom, they lead to mobility injustice by creating dependencies for their owners while restricting the mobility freedom of others, especially children.