“Tag!” we cheered, charging from one pavement to another.

It was the early 1970s, local car ownership was low. As children, we were out all day: playing, exploring, climbing, biking. I knew every nook and cranny in our neighbourhood and formed a deep attachment to the landscape.

In the last 40 years, there has been a drastic decrease in children’s freedom to roam - they are visibly absent from our streets.

Sixteen children are killed or seriously injured in road crashes every week so this is no surprise. Air pollution affects us all, particularly the youngest.

Should children not have the same freedoms that we enjoyed? Why have we allowed unfettered car dominance to grow at the expense of our children’s well being? Hands up, when I owned a car, I did make some unnecessary journeys - it’s an easy habit to slip into.  

Ham & High: Louise Wass wants children to be able to play on the streetsLouise Wass wants children to be able to play on the streets (Image: Louise Wass)

Recent neighbourhood filtering in Haringey has met with some resistance.  Low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) are often judged on their short term impacts, with little discussion on their vision or the multiple long term benefits - instead, "for or against" polemics are surfaced in an attempt to avoid the issues.

In many cases, residents have campaigned for years for the schemes the council are now trialling - they have done so because there is a problem with the status quo. 

Other LTN implementations have also encountered resistance but this has generally quietened as people began to experience the lived benefits.

Other countries have overcome accessibility issues when enabling active travel in their cities; there is no reason we cannot do the same. 

Cities now need to invest in cheap local active and public travel for all to address climate change. The three LTNs in Haringey enable safe cross-borough routes for active travel in a way that was previously unthinkable. 

We want vibrant local communities that allow for children’s outdoor play and safe routes to school. Reducing car use will allow us to create something better.

Be part of this change to make a more optimistic, progressive, and safer future for our children.

Louise Wass is co-chair of Haringey Living Streets.