Thursday, August 25, 2016

Reclaim the Streets

The marked cycle paths in South London often follow quiet residential streets with little traffic, and it strikes me that there is potential to reclaim these acres of tarmac and use them for vegetable gardens, trees, resting and playing spaces. By blocking off every second or third street and setting up a timed permit system for access for deliveries and loading, we could have green corridors across the city. Winding down the middle of these people-centred spaces, one-lane shared bike/pedestrian ways with in-ground solar-powered lighting. Dedicated multistory and underground parking facilities would use space more efficiently and provide 24hr video security. People would get more exercise and more opportunity to meet neighbours and the streets would be quieter and safer. With increased foot traffic would come more opportunities for pop-up businesses.

Lambeth Council is already providing secure bike parking, like these that I see everywhere. London is doing such a good job of creating infrastructure for cycling but it could go so much further.

Google tells us I'm not the first person to come up with ideas about reclaiming the streets. There was a whole movement in London in the 90s, and it actually started in Brixton which is where I was when I started thinking about it. That movement has been swept up into the wider anti-capitalist activities.

I'm thinking more along environmental AND high-tech lines. When Uber morphs into a transport system with something like google cars, for example. And car sharing schemes. Actually now I think about it, aren't there already streets like this in Collingwood and Fitzroy in Melbourne? Montpellier has some great lessons in how livable a pedestrian-zoned conurbation can be.

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