Street Talks with John Dales, Director, Urban Movement: Cycling lessons for London: Conclusions from TfL’s International Cycle Benchmarking Study (5th December 2013)
Putting streets on the political agenda: General Election 2015
Living Streets Supporters’ Conference
10am – 4.30pm, Saturday 21st June at NCVO, King’s Cross, London.
We’re delighted to be supporting this year’s Living Streets Supporters’ Conference.
The central theme for this year’s conference is putting streets and walking on the political agenda in the run up to the General Election. With the election only 11 months away the time to get streets on the political agenda is now.
The packed programme for the day includes a keynote address from John Whitelegg, who will be addressing ‘putting sustainable transport at the of election campaigning’; Streets Question Time – your chance to ask representatives from the main political parties about there plans to put pedestrians at the heart of transport policy; and masterclass sessions covering engaging with MPs and decision makers, running a successful local campaigning group and online campaign tactics to inspire change.
The conference is free to attend. You can find more details and register to attend here.
Streetfilms showcase – 7pm, Friday 6th June at Hackney Picture House, Mare Street, E8
Join us and Hackney Council on the evening of 6th June as we delve into the archive of Streetfilms – an inspiring showcase of projects and places from around the world, from the cycle friendly streets of Groningen to San Francisco via Copenhagen, Bogota, New York and more.
New York based Streetfilms have been producing short films showing how smart public realm design produces better places to live, work and play since 2006. They have become the go-to organisation for films on liveable streets, with over 8 million views of the 600 films in their archive
Tom Platt, London Manager, Living Streets: Speak up for your high street (1st April 2014)
The Living Streets Speak up for your high street campaign aims to ensure councillors elected on 22nd May champion people friendly high streets following election.
The campaign proposes six practical steps councils can take to help breath new life into London’s high streets by making them more inviting places to walk and spend time. Write directly to party leaders in your borough and ask them to take the Living Streets pledge.
The quick, the cheap and the temporary: Speeding up the transformation of London’s streets and public spaces
6.30pm, Wednesday 22nd January at The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, EC1M 6EJ – in partnership with Sustrans London
Is it time London learnt to loosen up and lighten up in its approach to the design and delivery of cycle infrastructure and other public realm improvements?
Over the last few years New York has been rapidly reclaiming street space for pedestrians and cyclists using little more than ‘paint and planters.’ Temporary and pilot projects are now being refined, adapted and made permanent. Should London be doing the same?
We hope you can join us for the first Street Talks of 2014 when our panel of speakers will explore the potential for quick, cheap and temporary projects to speed up the transformation of London’s streets and public spaces:
- Hannah Padgett from Sustrans will explain how the Pocket Places project in Peckham is using temporary and semi-permanent interventions to transform unused spaces along Rye Lane and stimulate debate about the future of this important local high street;
- Brian Deegan, who pioneered ‘light segregation’ for cycle lanes on Royal College Street, Camden and is one of the authors of Transport for London’s new Cycle Design Standards will consider the importance of adaptability when delivering cycle infrastructure; and
- Hackney Council’s Ben Kennedy will present a series of case studies at a range of scales – from on-street cycle lockers to a pilot project to test the potential for pedestrianising the Narrow Way on Mare Street.
In an age of austerity and localism Sustrans DIY Streets projects allow communities to develop affordable solutions to make their streets safer and more attractive places to live. The DIY Streets project in Haringey, which ran from 2010 – 2012, led to a 10% average reduction in traffic volume at monitoring sites; a 23% increase in traffic travelling 20mph or less; a 61% increase in residents who felt the street was attractive and a 34% increase in residents who felt the street is place to socialise.
We hope you can join us for July’s Street Talks when Ben Addy, who leads Sustrans DIY Streets work in London, will explore how local residents and other partners can work together to create high quality urban environments that promote sustainable travel and are safe and pleasant to live in and visit.
Upstairs at The Yorkshire Grey, 2 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8PN at 7pm on Tuesday 2nd July 2013 (bar open from 6pm).
Ben Addy is the London Communities Manager with Sustrans. He is responsible for managing the Communities projects in London – including DIY Streets and Pocket Places. Prior to his current role, Ben delivered a two-year DIY Streets project in Turnpike Lane, London Borough of Haringey. Ben has an MA International Studies from the University of Denver and has extensive experience working on social justice projects and campaigns in both Europe and North America.
If not now, when? Prospects for a cycling revolution in 2012/13 – Presentation to Newcastle Cycling Campaign by Bruce McVean (12th June 2012)
Many different factors – topographical, historical, economic, social, demographic and political – have contributed to the borough of Hackney becoming arguably the most liveable in London. We hope you can join us for Street Talks in June when Trevor Parsons and Vincent Stops will explore these factors, outline the many problems and constraints which still remain, and discuss strategies for overcoming them.
Upstairs at The Yorkshire Grey, 2 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8PN at 7pm on Tuesday 4th June 2013 (bar open from 6pm).
Vincent Stops has been a councillor in Hackney for 11 years. For two he was the lead member responsible for transport, streets and environment issues. For the last seven he has been the Chair of Planning. During all that time Vincent has promoted the benefits of a great public realm, great built environment and the importance of bus, cycle and walking. Vincent has worked in transport policy for several years.
Trevor Parsons lives in Hoxton and tinkers with computers. He became involved in his local London Cycling Campaign group when it appealed for help in the struggle against the building of the M11 Link Road. He has remained active at the borough level ever since, and claims the first use of the word ‘permeability’ in relation to planning for cycling.
People are constantly amazed when I mention I live on the same road I grew up on. Something about London seems alien to the concept. Either you grew up here, then promptly upped sticks the moment you had a family, or you moved here at some point in life. For me, fate and luck brought me back to the same street I played on as a boy. Many of the local roads adjacent to Seven Sisters Road were closed off to through traffic in the early eighties to curb prostitution. This was an incredibly successful strategy, and it also led to a better street environment. My brother and I played in the street regularly, despite there being the huge Finsbury Park less than 100 metres away.
So here we are, 20 years later, and things have changed. It’s rare to see children playing in front of their houses with other kids from the street. Children are spending more time indoors or being shepherded from one structured activity to the next. In many parts of London, people don’t know their next door neighbours, let alone any other families on their street. I often wondered whether we could ever rekindle the old sense of community and see children out playing as I used to. Then two things happened. We had a street party, instigated by some neighbours we had never met, and I read a piece in the Guardian about a scheme called ‘Playing Out’, started in Bristol, aimed at encouraging street play. It struck a chord with me. We want our children to trust the space outside our home. We want them to get to know the people we live near, not just next door to. We would like to generate a sense of community, rather than waiting for one to magically come about. At the street party, we found many people that we live amongst, but had never met, who felt the same way.
So what stops us from just opening our doors and letting the kids roam free? Cars. Despite the gates, vehicles continue to travel in a fashion unlikely to encourage kids to play naturally in the street. Drivers just don’t expect to encounter anyone or anything on the 200-metre zip up the road. Playing Out offered a way to begin to take back some ownership of the space outside our homes.
Essentially the idea is to formally close a street to through traffic to allow children to play. Giving children the freedom to play in the street allows them to form relationships with kids they don’t go to school with. Younger children can bond with older ones too. Unstructured playtime allows children the opportunity to gain independence from their parents. Kids make up their own games with their own rules and ultimately resolve their own conflicts without adult interference. In addition, Playing Out helps to develop a sense of community in the street. We had a lot of support, not just from the parents of children playing, but also from childless and elderly neighbours. Our experience of other sessions elsewhere in Hackney was that many people simply came out to have a cup of tea and a chat with others.
So how did we organise the first of our 12 playing out sessions this year? I attended an evening workshop given by Alice Ferguson, who co-created the Playing Out concept. The workshop outlined why Playing Out was a good idea, and ran through the procedures required to get it going. Our road had a great head start as two other neighbours came to the workshop. The three of us got together and began the process. A great deal of the groundwork had been done by others including local resident Claudia Le Sueur Draper who had organised with Hackney council to facilitate the sessions. The council were encouraged to start a 12 month trial to allow the granting of temporary road closures for street play, or TPSO.
We leafleted the whole street to introduce the idea and find more support. We then had to go through a formal consultation process, notifying all residents of our intended 2-hour road closures. Once that was completed, Hackney supplied us with formal notices and some ‘Road Closed’ signage. Volunteers strung up bunting across each end of the street and stewarded these entry-points, slowly escorting through any residents’ cars and turning away all other traffic.
Our first session was for 2 hours last Sunday, and was great, albeit cold! What struck me was how little encouragement the kids need. We didn’t need to worry about them being bored at all. As soon as the barriers went out, it was ‘game on’. Neighbours came out to offer cups of tea and home-baked treats.
Ultimately, I would like the formal side of Playing Out to fade away in our street, as well as neighbouring ones. I would like the 6 roads that make up our network here, to become a safe zone for street play. It would be nice for cars entering residential streets across the UK to know that children may well be in the road, and should take priority.
Lots of information is available on the Playing Out website.