Peatoniños, or “pedestrian-children” is a joint project between Mexico City’s experimental division Laboratorio para la Ciudad (2013-2018) and the UCLA Urban Humanities initiative based on Henri Lefebvre’s right to the city. The project was part of a research axis that used small specialized teams to promote public policy improvements that favor pedestrians’ safety and mobility. The ultimate goal was to generate participation, collaboration and co-creation among the citizenship that favored children living in Mexico City and the greater metropolitan area.
According to the CONARPA, traffic incidents were the second cause of mortality among 5-14 year olds in 2013. These and other threats to children safety such as violence and general insecurity have diminished the use of streets as playgrounds (a common practice in Mexico City forty years ago, but a dying one now a days).
To address these issues, increase children safety, and provide children and families’ with a right to the city, the project ran a series of urban interventions from 2016 to 2018. These interventions consisted in the temporarily closing of streets to motorized vehicles and inviting children and adults to take part of a series of activities planned using community-centered design and urban space analysis.
The pedagogical activities of Peatoniños turned the intervened streets into areas where children were able to play, talk with their neighbors, make new friends and learn about road safety principles. A total of eight streets were intervened with an average participation of fifty children and seventeen adults. Institutional collaboration was a catalyst for participation. The project concluded that these interventions have a high potential for reproducibility and may, in the long run, strengthen social cohesion and improve street safety. The recommendation for the future was to implement these urban interventions in zones where there is a high number of children, few open or green spaces and where the development index is low.