Traffic Calming Postcards from London
Judging by recent comments from some local pols, you'd think the addition of pedestrian spaces and bikeways in New York City has somehow thrown our streets out of whack. But what would our streets look like if we really did balance everyone's needs and made them safe and functional for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists?
In this Streetfilm, you'll see some of the new street designs in London shopping districts and residential neighborhoods. In many cases, these traffic calming treatments -- including raised crosswalks, traffic diverters, and chicanes -- go further than what we've seen in New York City so far. The attention to detail has created a truly balanced street environment, enhancing safety for pedestrians and cyclists while maintaining access for the trucks and cars that need to use the road.
London’s historic layout of narrow street means that limited road
space is a major issue, putting pressure on pedestrians, cyclists, parking
and deliveries and driving. Increasingly new street design techniques
are being used to maximise the use of the available space while balancing
the needs of all users. In Seven Dials, a bustling shopping district,
there are various competing demands for the limited space, tourist and
shoppers on foot, market traders who need space for their stalls, small
businesses needing to receive deliveries, and taxis serving the Cambridge
Theatre. Shared space was considered the most flexible way of
balancing these demands. Some streets have been pedestrianised
completely, others remain open to traffic. But the use of chicanes
and the cobbling of the roadway are used to slow speeds. By using
intuitive interventions rather than signals to regulate traffic, the
historic character of the area is maintained. Another example
of intelligent street design is The Cut where transport for London trials
many of its new street improvements. The wide pavements, blooming
flowers, slow car speeds and bustling café culture make The Cut a nice
place to spend time or just to walk through. The whole street
has been reorientated to prioritise the pedestrian. Car speeds
have been slowed by imposing 20 mile an hour speed limits on surrounding
roads, different road materials have been used at intersections to make
junctions more visible, and raised crosswalks decisively change the
relationship between pedestrians and other road users. Clever
management of the available pavement space has decreased clutter.
Previously every piece of street furniture, from the bins to the lamp
posts, would have it’s own fixture. Now, these have been combined,
creating a cleaner environment with fewer obstacles for pedestrians
to navigate. These improvements for the pedestrian experience
have been delivered without compromising other road users. There
is parking for the local residents and dedicated freight ways to enable
business deliveries without causing congestion. A different approach
which is suitable for more residential neighbourhoods. In De Beavoir
and Hackney, the road layout has been changed to filter out cars that
shouldn’t be there. Thin bollards which are cheap and quick
to install have been used to prevent car commuters from taking shortcuts
and racing through residential streets. Importantly, residents
can still access their home by car, but the maze like effect of the
bollards dissuades other drivers to take alternative routes. Thanks
to the use of the thin bollards, cyclists can still travel unimpeded.
The result is a more pleasant community orientated space where children
can play safely, people can walk their dogs and it’s a joy to cycle.
These approaches show how the imaginative use of limited space can enable
all road users to be met, while creating beautiful public spaces and
more liveable, prosperous and sustainable cities.