Monday, 22 June 2009
Reclaiming streets from cars
I had an occasion to travel to Kensington High Street today. Hardly the place were you would expect a clash of interests between the rich powerful vested interests of the car and transport lobby and pedestrians and cyclists. Amazingly this Tory borough, or rather the highway engineers of the council, have introduced some radical changes to the street scene. The space given over to road users has been "pinched" and pedestrians are free to step and cross into the road when they think it is safe to do so. Drivers become aware that pedestrians are not confined behind railings, enclosing the pavements -all have been removed! A mass of clutter and signs have been removed so drivers are not distracted and have clear lines of sight of other road users. Kerbs have been dropped at all road junctions and crossings. The centre of the road has been widened for cyclists to leave bikes. Clearly their is a level of recognition that the street is not just for vehicles but must be shared with other road users. This experiment & thinking is apparently gaining ground amongst street engineers. I have long been a supporter of such thinking -including the concept of home zones -radical traffic calmed streets, where cars are a visitor to residential streets and are reduced to a walking pace through radical traffic calming measures.