Cycling Cities for Infants, Toddlers & Caregivers

Making Biking Safe, Easy, Comfortable & Fun for the Youngest in Society

We partnered with the Bernard van Leer Foundation to research the positive connection between cycling and early childhood (0-3 years old) development. To date, there has been limited research conducted in this area and cities are struggling to accommodate young children and families. The longer-term goals are to inspire policy and planning changes as well as further academic research that are advantageous to children ages 0-3, caregivers, families, cyclists, and city residents in general.

We surveyed existing research and conducted interviews with caregivers and those working in the fields of early childhood development, education, mobility, city planning, government, and activism. Based on this work, we developed a series of guides for cities at different levels of cycling maturity. These guides are meant for a wide audience, including city officials, health and cycling advocacy groups, industry groups, and educational institutions.

Why Focus on Infants, Toddlers and their caregivers?

Incorporating  the needs of children and caregivers into a city’s cycling strategy benefits  all users. Facilitating active mobility for this demographic also amplifies the associated benefits because of their more vulnerable nature as well as their significant share of the urban population.

Furthermore, women are more likely to be undertaking caregiver journeys as a result of the gendered division of household labor and care. Women are thus more likely to suffer from time poverty and a greater burden from transportation. Greater consideration of the needs of caregivers contributes to the work towards gender fair cities.

The ability for more young children and their caregivers to cycle can notably help address three key challenges faced by cities.

Declining Physical Health: the earlier cities address inactivity in children – by prioritising cycling for young children and caregivers – the more likely they are to receive the benefits of a healthy and thriving adult population.

Air Pollution: switching from driving to cycling can also have a major impact on the amount of air pollution in a city, which has a significant economic and environmental impact, and is particularly harmful to infants and toddlers.

Inequity: many challenges cities face are connected with a widening gap between rich and poor. Prioritising cycling for caregivers and young children, especially those with limited financial means, can contribute to shrinking this gap.

About the Bernard Van Leer Foundation

The Bernard van Leer Foundation are an independent foundation working worldwide to inspire and inform large-scale action to improve the health and well-being of young children, especially the most disadvantaged, and the people who care for them. They provide financial support and expertise to partners in government, civil society and business to help test and scale effective services for young children and families.