London's urban environment

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  • This is meant as a general thread where you can stick things on the urban environment/things that affect urban life that don't need a thread of their own or things you don't think fit anywhere else.

    I didn't know where else to put this:

    https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/l­ondon-to-get-new-drinking-fountain-netwo­rk-in-bid-to-tackle-plastic-waste-a37478­71.html

    I like it and think it will be a much-valued public amenity when it's done.

    London, of course, used to have many more drinking fountains (as well as real horse troughs) than today, although I think all those I know of (mostly disused) are in parks. Having them in places like Oxford Street would be amazing, although inevitably there will be long queues, and I imagine constant maintenance will be required. Where I've heard of worthy local projects to restore such fountains in local parks, they have often ended up broken again after only a short time and without new funding to re-repair them. As a major public project, it will hopefully be consistently funded, and, of course, replacing broken taps every once in a while is unlikely to break the bank.

    London still needs other amenities, such as more public toilets, but these are slowly, gradually coming back, too.

  • Good thread Oliver.
    And the fountains are much needed. A great idea long overdue

  • This article is mainly on the impact of the London Fields Lido, but also about Broadway Market and the urban environment and sense of community, or newly-arrived lack of it, in that part of town generally:

    https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/­apr/16/london-fields-lido-did-saving-a-p­ool-mean-losing-a-community

    Andy Veitch was a lovely man. I miss him.

  • So here we have the first puff piece I've seen about the new drinking fountains:

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018­/aug/28/londons-new-drinking-fountains-a­-splash-hit

    London’s 20 new drinking fountains

    Kingly Court, Carnaby St
    Liverpool Street Station #1
    Liverpool Street Station #2
    Heart of Valentines Park, Redbridge
    Bexleyheath town centre
    North Acton station square
    Windrush Square, Brixton
    Ladywell Fields
    Beckhenham Place Park
    Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Paddington Recreation Ground
    Acton Park
    Guy’s Hospital
    St Thomas’ Hospital
    Swiss Cottage Open Space
    Camberwell Green
    Nisbett Walk, Sidcup town centre
    Natural History Museum
    St Alban’s Street, St James’s
    The London School of Economics and Political Science

  • The Guardian Cities series is often worthwhile:

    https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/­oct/02/walkways-in-the-sky-the-return-of­-londons-forgotten-pedways

    It can only be hoped that instead of reviving this nonsensical idea, someone will focus on reducing the number of motorised carriages in the streets ... yeah, right.

  • This, though not London-specific, is a better indicator of how movement for pedestrians ought to be facilitated (although some of the examples in the article are of architectural designs seemingly conceived without any thought for pedestrian movement, which then makes the appearance of 'desire paths' more startling than it should be):

    https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/­oct/05/desire-paths-the-illicit-trails-t­hat-defy-the-urban-planners

  • Thanks Oliver Some good reads...

  • Good read that was.. I've a seen a path on Chiswick roundabout go legit a few years ago. Thank u TFL
    Also spoted a article at the bottom on new elevated walkways in london, which I think are a great idea especially the ones in Singapore which proved a welcome break from busy streets pollution and crossings.
    There's also a great link to a fantastic documentary on the failed pedways documentry too.. well worth a watch.

    https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/­oct/02/walkways-in-the-sky-the-return-of­-londons-forgotten-pedways

  • Erm ... I did post that up there. :)

    I strongly disapprove of the idea of 'pedways'. It was always a completely misguided approach to cities, and we are very fortunate that it didn't come to pass in London. As in Singapore, there is nothing inevitable about car use and pollution. It's the result of political choices. Elevated walkways merely put people on foot at a significant disadvantage while enshrining the priority of drivers to occupy the ground level. This is wrong and will never lead to liveable cities, regardless of technical innovation.

  • Well said @Oliver Schick. This is a really good point at a good time for me as our local school is discussing a bridge over the river- essentially so we can keep the road out the front free for cars to continue parking horribly etc.
    It makes me think a bridge is fine, but so is a plan to reduce car trips, and maybe widening pavements out the front to remove the illegal parking spots, add some benches for people waiting to pick up etc.

    Thanks, good timing like I said!

  • I think I certain cases pedestrian tunnels or bridges make sense.
    For example the museum underpass at south Ken really serves it's purpose well.
    We need to make a city where motorised transport is not king but can co exist and run harmoniously.

  • i disagree - there is a hierarchy of ideal urban travel, and cars are at the bottom. Most motorised urban transport is unnecessary (short trips which could be walked or cycled) and inefficient (single occupancy).

    There will be exceptions (tradesman, physical disabilities) but our urban planning should reflect the hierarchy. Walking first, cycling second, mass transport (bus/train/tram) 3rd and cars below that.

    Pedways reinforce that idea that cars belong in cities, so I'm against them generally.

  • Agreed, I recall seeing loads of high level Pedways in downtown Atlanta. street level nonsense filled with parking lots, drop off zones, for hotels, shopping malls, business towers, several freeways converging, spaghetti junctions, good only for motorised vehicle traffic and fumes.. depressing thought considering it’s history as a city is as old as America it’s self..

  • The thing is, this is very common in UAE too, where the car rules.. London ffs need less cars, instead of congestion charges.. I vote for a ban.. except when I need a Zipcar, lol

  • museum underpass at south Ken

    I agree. The walk down the 'tunnel' was always one of the attractions of a day out at the Museums.

  • One of the problems is area such as the square mile is just too congested to share the space effectively.. vertical construction make sense. It ain't realistically going to be predestrianised any time soon.

  • I should add we aren’t quite urban is Marple, so there is an element of through traffic, old folk driving to local shops etc but equally everyone at the school comes less than 1.5 miles, and about 80% come less than 1 mile, so even if you drive to work after (which most don’t) leave the car at home and walk back for it surely!

  • I think in certain cases pedestrian tunnels or bridges make sense.

    Well, of course there are such cases (it would be surprising if there weren't). However, as a general principle they should be avoided. Movement at ground level is a valuable commodity and should be prioritised for people not in cars. There certainly shouldn't be an ideologically-driven programme to disadvantage walking.

    For example the museum underpass at south Ken really serves it's purpose well.

    Wasn't that built as part of the Underground station? I'll try to find something about its history in a moment. It was a bit of a one-off.

  • Yes, Atlanta is the one place where that agenda really took hold.

  • One of the problems is area such as the square mile is just too congested to share the space effectively.. vertical construction make sense. It ain't realistically going to be predestrianised any time soon.

    It's really perfectly possible to share space effectively even in a highly-centralised and congested place if you first reduce space-wasting motor traffic. Yes, some of it is needed to deliver heavy things, for people with mobility difficulties (as gillies said), etc., but it remains highly questionable as to why it should serve for personal mobility in a place like the City of London.

    Quite apart from that there is the question about the extent to which we should continue to over-centralise such a small place. The argument that 'the economy' needs such centralisation is considerably weaker today than it was before, and the immense load that public transport places on the public purse to effectively increase the profits of the very few Central London landowners is a huge problem.

    There is always the possibility to politically steer development and economic activity so it is distributed better--not just throughout London, or even the UK, but the world. In particular, the City is really powerful and strong enough and doesn't really need any more intensification.

  • I should add we aren’t quite urban is Marple

    Is this some phone predictive text thing?

  • So, the South Kensington tunnel is part of 'Albertopolis':

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Kens­ington_Subway

    It was meant to help with high pedestrian flows when exhibitions were on, but was later opened at all times.

  • I love the aerial photo of Michigan State University in this one

  • Yes! We aren’t quite urban in marple.. in that we are sub urban/ semi rural

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London's urban environment

Posted by Avatar for Oliver Schick @Oliver Schick

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