Children in front of the fountain in Bratislava

Start with Children initiative celebrates child-friendly cities in Bratislava 

EIT Urban Mobility partnered and held a workshop with the Start with Children initiative, also branded as the Bratislava Summit 2024, in its first edition in the capital of Slovakia on 28 and 29 May 2024. Mayors of European cities and urban planners met to discuss how to create child-friendly cities, in an event that brought together over 650 urban planners, experts, NGO and private sector representatives in the capital of Slovakia. The list of speakers included prominent professionals in urban planning and community engagement. Ankita Chachra, Tim Gill, Gil Penalosa, Jan Gehl and many others came to Bratislava to discuss child-friendly city planning.
 
The Mayor of Bratislava, Matúš Vallo, endorsed the initiative of making the wellbeing of children a main priority in city planning. Moreover, well-planned cities also contribute to climate adaptation and urban mobility. “A city good for children is a city good for everyone” was the unofficial motto of the summit.

Panel discussion at the Start with Children Summit, 28 May 2024.

With this initiative, Bratislava has set a pathway to become a leader in child-friendly city planning. Seventy experts created a twelve-step plan how the city of Bratislava can reshape and redesign its streets. The plan includes an understanding of Bratislava’s identity, accessibility, development plans and environmental conditions of the Slovakian capital. This step-by-step scheme covers all spheres of life in the European city, aiming to be inclusive for every inhabitant.

To make it happen, the initiative is strongly supported by the City of Bratislava and the Metropolitan Institute of Bratislava. 

The summit brings inspiration and best practices 

A panel of mayors presented a wealth of practical approaches on how to make cities more liveable, including a bold discussion of best transformative practices from other European cities. Mayors of Tirana, Warsaw, Gdansk, Reykjavik and Bratislava shared their views on the topic.

Children enjoying car-free street in the centre of Bratislava during the Start with Children Summit, 28 May 2024.

EIT Urban Mobility to promote child-friendly cities

To strengthen the concept of integrating quality public space and urban mobility, EIT Urban Mobility held a workshop during the summit, entitled “Beyond Playgrounds: Children Shaping the Future of Mobility”. The event explored strategies for involving children and young people in mobility projects and initiatives. For youth, it is crucial to involve innovative methods of engagement. This is why EIT Urban Mobility introduced a “walkshop”, where participants had the opportunity to interview people on streets and observe the city. The walkshop members captured details about activities occurring in the city, its environment and the city’s users.

Urban mobility as a key principle of child-friendly cities

Inherently present across the panels and backstage discussions was the issue of urban mobility. Child-friendly cities are those capable of regulating their automobile traffic, while enabling children and populations at large to move around safely, sustainably and efficiently.  
 
The Start with Children initiative has received a positive reception among the audience and partners, in our common goal of building more innovative, green and child-friendly cities.