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Shanks’ pony wins gold at the 2012 Olympics!

2 Aug

Way back in 2006 CarFreeUK, formed by ‘a group of researchers, transport planners and environmentalists’ put forward a proposal for with the support of other green campaign groups including Friends of the Earth and the Campaign to Protection of Rural England for a car-free London 2012 Olympics which would create “a lasting legacy of sustainability after the Games”.

By October 2007 it was clear that ‘cars were not invited’ to the proposed games (apart from 3,000 vehicles were to be made available to visiting dignitaries, officials and sponsors) and many improvements have since been made both to London’s to the public transport network and also to it’s cycling and pedestrian facilities.

Result? According to Locog usage of the Docklands Light Rail is currently up by 65%, public transport by 7.5% and national rail by 5% and Additional express coach services created for the occasion which operate from 76 departure points across the country have also clocked up 500,000km so far. By contrast road traffic in London is down 17%, a decrease which comes on the back of steady falls in road traffic in the city over the past years.

As a result the media have bounced from reporting of Traffic delays of two hours and ‘London traffic jams reach Olympic proportions‘ to ‘Olympics: London calling, where are you?‘.

However, this is not the first time that predictions of major traffic chaos have actually led to reductions both in traffic and congestion. Los Angeles experienced lower congestion than normal when the 405 freeway through the city was part-closed in 2011 with the media switching from ‘Los Angeles braces for weekend of “Carmageddon“‘ and ‘Carmageddon: Tempers flare as 405 Freeway shuts down‘ before the closure to reporting that road traffic actually decreased by some 20% across a wide area with the Los Angeles Times musing: “L.A. city and county officials are asking whether drivers can be persuaded to leave their cars parked more often”, and that “People discovered something about themselves and Los Angeles auto culture that shocked them. Why can’t we take some chunk of L.A. and shut it down to traffic on certain days or weekends, as they do in Italy?”.

A few weeks ago I spotted a poster in a local museum encouraging people to use Shanks’ pony and to ‘walk short distances’ back during WW2 and had been waiting for some excuse to post it on this blog, so here goes:

Walk short distances

So… well done to CarFreeUK and lets get on with ensuring that there is a great legacy from these games!

DIY traffic calming in Beech Croft Road, Oxford

9 Jul

Here is an encouraging story about what can be achieved by a community that works together to make changes in their street.

DIY traffic calming

Here is a report on the BBC about it.

And bizarre a visit by Richard Hammond of Top Gear in the mix. I am told that Richard Hammond had no idea what was in store for him and that the residents had no idea who the presenter was going to be.

You can read more about the project on their blog, on the associated ‘road witch’ blog and also in a report by Oxford city Council. The project was the first of a number of schemes supported by the Sustrans DIY Streets project.

Incidentally… here is a great story with loads of pictures about the terrible sate the street was in for pedestrians some time back. (added following comment below – thanks).

Beech Croft Road some time earlier

Parking Douche!

30 May

Check out Parking Douche and watch their video here which explains how it all works:

Inspiration from Bogotá, Columbia

11 May

Policy makers around the world have been paying a lot of attention to the transport changes that have taken place in Bogotá, Columbia over the past decade or so, many of which were initiated by their remarkable Mayor from 1998-2001, Enrique Peñalosa who managed to reorient the city away from the car and towards public transport, cycling and walking. Here are some my favorite quotes from the man:

  • “Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people.”
  • “We need to walk, just as birds need to fly. We need to be around other people. We need beauty. We need contact with nature. And most of all, we need not to be excluded. We need to feel some sort of equality.”
  • “A bikeway is a symbol that shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important as a citizen on a $30,000 car.”
  • “If we’re going to talk about transport, I would say that the great city is not the one that has highways, but one where a child on a tricycle or bicycle can go safely everywhere.”
  • “One symbol of lack of democracy is to have cars parked on the sidewalk.”

And here he is explaining what he did and why:

This Streetfilm documentary explains how the bike free days work:

And this piece from the New York Times explains their clever bus rapid transit system work:

Simple really, almost child’s play, but it seems to be far out of reach for ‘developed’ countries. What exactly do we mean by the word ‘developed’ I wonder? I am reminded of how Gandhi  responded when asked what he though about ‘Western Civilisation’, saying that he thought that ‘it would be a good idea’.

Police with teeth – at least in Nottinghamshire

20 Jan

Nottinghamshire Police in the Broughton Astley & Walton area have put out a warning that they are going to get tough on pavement parking. here as a screen-grab from their website. I just wish other police forces would take such a clear stand in support of vulnerable road users!

Notts police get tough

Notts police get tough

To quote:

There are rules in parking which are,

1. Drivers must leave enough room for a double buggy pushchair or mobility cart to get through

2. Must NOT park on dropped kerbs for wheel chair access!

3. Must not park blocking driveways!

Inspiration from Park(ing) day 2011

17 Sep

Inspiration from around on world from Park(ing) day 2011 which took place yesterday when people all over the world reclaim parking meters for social and convivial purposes. Here are a few photos and a great piece of artwork from the people who created the event a few years ago. Great to see a neat little park hitting London’s streets with help from ibuyeco and the Woodland Trust.

Parking day hits London's streets (copyright image)

Parking day 2011 - barber's shop

Enjoy the day! (copyright image)

Save the day - Rebar

Car free sundays

31 Aug

Waterloo, Ontario had its first Car Free Sunday a few weeks ago. The 2011 Paris Plage came to a close a week ago and New York Summer Streets worked great. Brussels has one on the 18th September and London also had one (err. that is London, Ontario actually). London, England will of course get a taster on the 4th September when the Mayor hopes to get more than last years 85,000 cyclists out for the 2011 London Skyride. Our very own public health minister, Anne Milton suggested that streets in the UK should be closed on sundays so children could play after learning about how they close streets in Bogota, Columbia every Sunday. Unfortunately the health ministry said that ‘would be something for local councils to consider’ (sounds like a ‘no’ to me!) Maybe next year :)

Here are some tasters for this summer’s events. I love the kid in the first picture and the total silence in the New York video – when is New York ever that quiet? I love the jazz and the I am hopeful that there is some very serious unstoppable energy building around this idea and that it will be coming to more and more places more often until it becomes as normal as smoke-free restaurants have become over the past few years.

Waterloo, Ontario. First car free Sunday (copyright image)

25K pageviews and a new facebook group

24 Aug

Pedestrian Liberation has just topped 25,000 page views since it started and is now regularly getting 2,000 page views a month which seems like a great time to launch a new Pedestrian Liberation Facebook group where people can discuss issues, ideas and plan responses. If you are interested in creating a better pedestrian environment then please sign up to the group and get talking. The group is ‘closed(open)’ which means that the discussion is only visible to members of the group(visible to everyone). There is no restriction on joining. Just just click ‘join group’ and you are in.

Fyi, here is our usage since we started:

Pageviews on Pedestrian Liberation to August 2011

And just here are the search terms people used to find the site over the past month. My favourities include:

  • “which campaigns deals with pavements,road signs
  • “can wheelie bins be left on dropped kerb
  • “how to convince parents not to park their cars outside school gates for their own children’s safety
  • “why are cars allowed to park on pavements?
  • “how much does cow need living space” (not sure about that one!)
  • “why are roadsigns placed on pavements to block pedestrians?
  • “are people allowed to park on dropped kerbs?
  • “cars obstructing pavement law definition uk

And here are some of the more popular search terms:
is it illegal to park on the pavement 25
pavement parking 10
road works 6
road obstruction sign 6
raised crossing 6
pedestrian liberation 6
leicestershire pavement parking 5
dhl unmarked 4
archway road highgate during world war 2 4
pedestrianliberation.wordpress.com 4
can wheelie bins be left on dropped kerb 4
example of road life 3
council yellow line enforcement private land 3
parked on footway 3
road work signs 3
biased maps 3
unloading on a dropped kerb with double yellow lines 3
fast lane speed mph 3
council clearing pavements campaign 3
destroyed road 3
roadworks 3
rectangular bananas 3
legislation for parking vehicles on footpaths for business purposes 3
welwyn garden city 3
is it an offence to park a vehicle on a drive that obstructed the footpath 3
signs for pedestrians on paveement 2
parking lot paid space toy car 2
paving leaflet 2
pavement obstruction law uk 2
pavement kerb 2
without favour or affection malice or ill will 2
alternative parking 2
highway maintenance cars 2
which campagins deals with pavements,road signs 2
safety beacon leaflets 2
new forest cow in road 2
office people 2
damaged pavement 2
parking pavement narrow road 2
problems pertaining to pedestrians and law enforcement of pedestrian offence 2
street parking laws pavement blocking 2
pedestrian liberation cycle track act 2
to be treated with contempt 2
is it illegal to park on a pavement 2
highway maintenance van 2
parking on pavement leaving 1 meter 2
road works diagram 2
car sticker wheelchair pedestrians 2
no parking on pavement 2
is the pavement common land 2
is it illegal to leave bins on pavement 2
apc overnight depots in ipswich 2
west yorkshire police rogues gallery 2
footways use 2
chapter 8 road work sign positions 2
openstreetmap speed limit time 2
street slabs 2
how to convince parents not to park their cars outside school gates for their own children’s safety 2
other road pavements 2
is it legal to park on pavement? 2
parked on dropped kerb outside my own garage in cardiff 2
driving on pavement law 2
map speed limits milton keynes 2
no parking on the curb sign 2
parking on double yellow includes verge and footway 2
problem pertainig to pedestrian and law enforcement of pedestrian offences 2
asphalt pedestrian footway 2
child bending over puddle 2
speed limits for ipswich 2
i hate stickers 2
car walking 2
stevenage footpaths 2
department of transport parking on footpaths 2
why are cars allowed to park on pavements? 2
netherlands 130km 2
are you allowed to park on the pavement 2
cause unnecessary obstruction by motor vehicle 2
broken pavement 2
funny parking in the uk 2
zigzag traffic lights 2
no pedestrians 2
dpd 2
yellow lines parked pavement case 2
trek highway services 2
traffic management signs 2
are cars allowed to park on pavement 2
safety signs laws for works on pavements 2
archway road 2
sandwell school parking campaign 2
is it an offence to drive over a footpath to gain access 2
bollard planter 2
new paving designs 2011 2
broken slabs 2
speed limits on urban a roads 2
summer streets 2011 2
local regualtions regarding obstruction of a pavement 2
tnt lorry 2
road traffic act parking on pavements 2
is it illegal to park on the pavement 2010 2
what are the benefits of using email with regard to speed cost 2
range rover classic passenger safety 2
dpd van on fire 2
law on construction along the highway and busy street 2
no wheelchairs 2
lamp post damage 2
wheelchairs 2
dropped kerbs law 2
cumnor primary school 2
illegal to park on pavement 2
how much does cow need living space 2

Park(ing) day 2011

22 Aug

Park(ing) Day is a global grass-routes project to convert parking meter spaces into attractive social spaces for a few hours on one day each year, thereby challenging the dominance of the car in a playful and effective way. The initiative, which started in San Francisco in 2005  had already spread to 183 cities around the globe by 2010 and Parking day 2011 takes place on 16th September in a few weeks time. This could be a good day to do some stuff in our local areas. Any ideas?

In San Francisco this initiative has already inspired the city authorities to convert parking bays into pavement extensions for cafe tables, park benches, bike racks etc on a more permanent basis. Very simple, very effective and very San Francisco. Do of course remember that in North American English the ‘pavement’ is the carriageway, or more accurately the paved road surface rather than the footway. Click on the images for more information and do watch the video. Isn’t it great!

Divisadero Street Parklet (copyright image)

22nd Street Parklet (copyright image)

Summer Streets. Cities without cars

8 Aug

New York Summer Streets 2011


New York Summer Streets is back for 2011 with the first of three major street closures last Saturday on the 6th August and Paris has again installed its regular beach on a dual carriageway along the banks of a Seine. A pavement chalk festival took place in London, in Passadena and Liverpool is hosting the 3rd open International Pavement Art Competition in September when the London Sky Ride also returns to the capital. So many ways to enjoy our streets when the cars are banished!

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