Creating Child-Friendly Downtowns
Is Your Main Street Child-Friendly?
Child-Friendly design benefits everyone
Downtown should be welcoming to all. Traffic-calmed streets, stroller-accessible sidewalks, play-area pocket parks, and other child-friendly amenities are good for everyone. Child-friendly downtown-design is attractive to families, persons with disabilities, retirees, and tourists. The same pedestrian-safety features and accessible designs that encourage parents to frequent your downtown benefit us all.
Streetscape--Increase Pedestrian Safety:
- Well-marked corner or mid-block crossings
- Easily reached and understood light buttons
- Curb cut outs, chokers, and boulevard meridians shorten crossing distances
- Traffic calming through speed bumps, raised intersections, brick, stone, or textured streets, and other measures
- Better lighting
Universal Design Features:
Universal Design features that make your downtown more accessible to people with differing abilities also increase the child-friendliness of your downtown. Strollers benefit by curb cuts or accessible entrances.
- Curb cuts and accessible entrances enable parents to push strollers to safely cross intersections and get onto sidewalks safely.
- Wider, uncluttered aisles inside your store benefit children and parents with strollers. They are also more attractive to all shoppers.
- Elevators are welcomed by stroller-pushing parents or even parents with short-legged little children.
- Downtown benches and shaded seating are welcomed by everyone including tired families.
Downtown Play Spaces
- Downtown pocket parks can introduce play areas. They do not have to be primary colors either.
- “Climbable Art” is very inviting to children and create memorable downtown trips.
- Water features are the ultimate draw for children of all ages.
- Children’s menus, casual design, cleanable surfaces, adequate high chairs, butcher-block paper table-coverings and crayons and contribute to an enjoyable dinner for all.
- Child-friendly restrooms are important to families.
- Outdoor dining is tailor-made for boisterous child diners as long as there is adequate division between dining and the traffic.
- Friendly service and cleanliness are probably most important.
Having a restroom available is important. Children usually cannot wait until they get home.
- Provide a clean changing table or fold down changing station in both the men’s and women’s restrooms.
- Provide a stool by the sink and towels, (or if space and budget allows, a lower sink) for children.
- Make sure the soap and towels are reachable.
Designated Play Areas
Designated play areas, whether a simple, interlocking block table, a vertical play panel on the ends of clothing racks, or a large play area in a family-oriented restaurant all serve to keep children entertained while parents dine or shop.
For more information, please contact: Carol J. Dyson, AIA, Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, DNR. Carol.Dyson@Illinois.gov