Play Streets scheme: Fife street closed to traffic to allow children to play freely as their grandparents once did
Youngsters from a neighbourhood in Kirkcaldy were able to enjoy playing freely in a town street recently, as previous generations once did, when it was closed off to traffic for the Play Streets initiative.
The event, on Saturday, September 11, saw a section of Milton Road in Kirkcaldy closed to through-traffic, to provide a safe environment for children to play on the road outside their front doors.
Residents of all ages came along with around 40 children making full use of the road.
The youngsters used their imaginations by using the road as a canvas for chalk artwork, including a giant game of hopscotch that went all the way up to 103. They also had fun with ball games, scooters, bikes and skipping ropes. Parents took the opportunity to teach their kids games from their childhood, such as kerby.
The event was inspired by Playing Out, a national organisation that supports local groups and residents to organise Play Streets events across the country.
The first ever Playing Out took place in Bristol in 2009 and the first ever Play Streets in Fife was organised by residents of Milton Road with support from charity Greener Kirkcaldy.
Susan Jeynes, active travel development worker for the charity, said: “We ran a Kirkcaldy car-free week earlier in the year, to help people imagine what the town could be like if there was a greater focus on people rather than on traffic.
"Playing Out gave a presentation at one of our events. They explained the idea of the Play Streets concept, where a residential street is temporarily closed to through-traffic to create a safe space for local residents to socialise. We were inspired by this idea, and reached out to see if any residents would like to do this on their street.”
Minister and local resident Justin Taylor responded and started chatting to his neighbours and building local support for the idea. He said: “It was lovely to see children playing in the streets again and just enjoying themselves, feeling safe and knowing there weren’t any cars around.
“The other side was just getting to know our neighbours.”
Greener Kirkcaldy would love to see Play Streets become more widespread, and hopes that other groups and residents across Fife will be inspired to organise their own events on their streets.