Raising children in the city could be considered somewhat novel in a country where the conventional wisdom dictates a move to the suburbs as a family grows. But one family in Washington, DC is glad they stayed in the city, which they believe offers benefits that suburbs often can’t replicate. The challenge is to ensure that more families can reap the same benefits from living and growing in a city.
Getting around is a perpetual logistical problem for families. The experience of getting to school, both as a student and now as a parent, has demonstrated to me just how inequitable our transportation system is and what a barrier it is to opportunity.
Our family is a biking family. For us, that means being healthy, active, and having a lot of freedom and mobility. Biking is how our family chooses to get around, but building a family-friendly city means having streets that can help people get around in any number of ways—walking, biking, transit, scooting, or driving.
While the words “housing” and “city” together may conjure images of skyscrapers and high-rise condo buildings, many cities today are dominated by single-family detached homes. But family-friendly cities need more housing and more housing variety. Cities should re-legalize modest homes and missing middle housing that allows choice and made them attractive places to live in the first place. In fact, creating a family-friendly city is more about going back to the past than about creating something new.
In the conversations about cities, much of the media attention has been focused on young professional or older, retiring Americans. But families with children have been largely overlooked in the midst of our current urban renaissance. There has been some recent debated over whether the number of children (and thus families) is increasing or on the decline in cities, and it got us thinking: what would a place designed for families look like?