Child-friendly neighbourhoods

Welcome to Metamorphosis Global Online Toolkit

About Metamorphosis Global

Metamorphosis Global builds on work by two existing on-going projects at the University of Southampton (UoS), EU Metamorphosis and the Global Road Safety Research Centre’s STARS (Socio-Economic Assessment of Road Safety) project. Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) is a partner in the STARS project. The premise of the EU Metamorphosis project is that the urban environment can be improved if it is designed with the most vulnerable users in mind, namely children. This in turn suggests that different urban design and mobility solutions need to be provided for children, if they are to become ‘child-friendly neighbourhoods’, and that these solutions must be developed with the input of children and their associated local community adults. Similarly, the STARS project is demonstrating how socio-technical approaches can also improve road safety in Low/Medium-Income Countries (L/MICs). In Metamorphosis Global, UoS and BUET will co-produce an online toolkit that will assist L/MICs in redesigning urban environments, particularly around schools. This toolkit will incorporate a series of case study initiatives which could potentially be applied in Bangladesh, including a locally ‘worked example’ (or examples) to be undertaken as part of the project, as well as further practical guidance on how to design child-friendly streets and neighbourhoods as taken from existing ‘best practice’ in other countries.   The toolkit and associated measures suggested by Metamorphosis Global are designed to provide local health and other associated benefits by reducing road accidents, improving the urban environment, stimulating local economic development and enhancing social inclusion, whilst protecting the most vulnerable.


According to the United Nations, the world’s urban population has grown six-fold between 1950 and 2018 and, by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will live in cities. Such urbanisation has been particularly rapid in L/MICs, where the population is also relatively young. For example, in Bangladesh in 2011, over 30% of the urban population was aged 14 or under, yet children are particularly disenfranchised in urban planning processes. Urbanisation has been accompanied by motorisation, which results in a number of negative impacts, not least road accidents. For example, in Bangladesh police reports for 2015 indicate a total of 2,394 road accidents, involving 2,376 deaths and 1,958 injuries. Considering the severe under-reporting of police records, the World Health Organisation independently estimated in 2013 road traffic fatalities in Bangladesh of between 17,349 and 25,283 per year. Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs – those not using conventional motorised transport) are the worst affected and account for nearly 80% of road traffic accidents fatalities in Bangladesh. These accidents disproportionately affect the young, the old and those on the lowest incomes. BUET estimates that there are over 50 fatalities per annum per 10,000 on-road motor vehicles in Bangladesh as compared to 1.4 in the UK. The estimated annual GDP lost due to road traffic crashes in Bangladesh is about 1.6%. Heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses, including minibuses, are major contributors to road accidents (bus/minibus 33%, trucks 27%) and in fatal accidents their shares are even higher (35% and 29% respectively). This group of vehicles is particularly over involved in pedestrian accidents accounting for about 68% (bus/minibus 38%, trucks 30%).  Recently, the death of two students in a road accident involving a bus had led to nationwide protests in Bangladesh and featured in world news outlets (see: Current planning practice in L/MICs (and indeed elsewhere) has been reactive, largely adapting urban neighbourhoods to increasing motorised traffic. Instead, agencies such as the World Bank have argued that a proactive approach is needed to manage motorised traffic. Professor Peter Jones of University College London has related this to the transport policy development process (see Figure 1.1)

Figure 1.1: Transport Policy Development Process

Our contention is that most cities in L/MICs are still at stage 1 when they should be contemplating stages 3 or 4. Improved urban design to enhance road safety and advance the liveability of urban areas will have enormous benefits to L/MICs. It will benefit the most vulnerable and deliver excellent value for money. Accidents have enormous economic costs in terms of lost productivity and damage to people and property, whilst there are substantive social costs related to pain, grief and suffering. By reducing reliance on motorised transport in particularly sensitive locales, the urban environment will be improved and there will be reductions in emissions of local air pollutants (such as nitrogen oxides and particulates) and of noise. Liveability will be improved which is important as Dhaka has been rated the second least liveable city in the world (

 Metamorphosis Global will take the basic principles that have already been observed and reported by the EU Metamorphosis and STARS projects (Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 1) and help local policy makers progress them to TRL 4 (demonstration stage), through the development and provision of a prototype online tool. This toolkit is provided in the local language (Bengali), as well as in English, and is designed to assist local city authorities and urban designers in developing and implementing local child-friendly schemes, which are appropriate and workable for their own neighbourhoods.