Pedestrianisation - A Good News Story

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  • We've been having some success north of of the M25. CycleSheffield have managed to persuade the local council to run a trial pedestrianisation of Division Street, one of the main retail areas in the city centre which still carries traffic.

    Its one of those things that has been asked for before but ended up being pushed aside or filed in the big round file of nice ideas that'll definitely be looked at one day when there's some money just lying around. Back in April, one of our members mocked up an image of what the street could look like as a car free space and it got spread around social media to a fairly good reception. Even after it got picked up by the local newspaper and pushed beyond our usual reach, there was a lot of public support for the idea.

    Back in June we managed to organise a drop in session for businesses to talk about whether this could work for them. Of those that attended, the response was overwhelmingly positive to the point that some of the businesses were wondering how soon the street could be permanently pedestrianised.

    On the back of this we submitted a proposal to the Council to run a trial pedestrianisation on Car Free Day this weekend (21st/22nd September). Disappointingly they rejected the request on the grounds there were already road closures in the city centre for a 10k run and it is the usual student moving in day for students of the two universities in the city. Students at both use accommodation on roads that join on to Division Street. However, after a meeting and some calendar checking they have agreed to a closure of the road on the weekend of 19th/20th October from 10am to 4pm.

    We're being given the road closure as an event for CycleSheffield so we're now busy scrambling around to organise a car free environment for the weekend. Hopefully we're going to be able to log some outcomes which will justify further trials and a pathway to either permanent or regularised pedestrianisation.

    One of the key issues for us is that there has been a very tangible shift in both the public and the political will to try out something different. I suspect that this is broader than just the northern haven of joy that is Sheffield so if any organisations have had something similar as an idea, now could be a very good time to give it a serious go.­8/03/pedestrianise-division-street/

  • I think you need to speak to sarah storey after the worlds if you have not already . Nice work

  • We've been speaking to her project director Pete Zanzottera. The Active Travel Commissioner's office aren't involved in this but they certainly are aware of it. They're still in the development stage of their programme and we wouldn't want to take funding from that for this necessarily as it isn't strictly about active travel.

    Fortunately Sheffield Council have agreed to pay for the closure and operational side of things.

    I'm hoping Sarah Storey will be able to visit the closure if it doesn't conflict with her racing schedule.

  • Good news!

    Down south west we got a road (20meters) pedestrianised for 1 year trial, so many people are so backwards here it’s hilarious.

    Hopefully they line up more, best thing that could happen in Taunton is force people not avoid their cars!

  • There is something north of the M25???

    Good stirrings, but it's worth being really careful with words here. I know you know this, and we have various threads on it, but to re-iterate--the following are not pedantic points, so apologies if they come across like them, but very important for getting the language right from the outset:

    permanently pedestrianised

    Avoid the term 'pedestrianisation'. (Well, erm, obviously it's in the thread title. :) ) It will always try to creep in, but it squeezes cyclists out. 'Motor-free', 'car-free', 'fume-free' etc. all work better. If people think of a pedestrian zone, they will inevitably not think of shared use and cyclists, and it is worth making sure the right expectation is generated from the outset. (Remember that the vast majority of 'pedestrian zones', both in Europe and in Britain, were introduced when the bike was a largely forgotten mode, thought obsolete, and the idea was basically to build large car parks around traditional centres so that everybody could drive to them and park there, and then walk around before piling their shopping into their cars. It has only been in the last two decades that some pedestrian zones have had cycling permitted, but there's still a long way to go.)

    which still carries traffic.

    'Motor traffic'. You want loads of traffic in those streets, and obviously people on foot and bikes are traffic that uses space a lot more efficiently.

    what the street could look like as a car free space

    Much better. :)

    road closures

    This is always a problematic, negative idea. Avoid it. What is meant is that the road/street (for urban spaces use 'street' wherever possible) is configured so that motor traffic, or just non-public service vehicle motor traffic, is 'filtered' out (i.e., the big lumps, as in a filter). 'Modal filters' is a good concept, as are the above terms for 'car-freeness' etc. Nobody would want a 'road' closed, as that would make no sense, since roads and streets are for people movement, people lingering for a while, having conversations, accessing shops, etc. Obviously, some people understand what is meant by 'road closure', but some instinctively react to the negativity of it, and in public discourse it is always worth being as clear and literal as possible.

    One of the key issues for us is that there has been a very tangible shift in both the public and the political will to try out something different. I suspect that this is broader than just the northern haven of joy that is Sheffield so if any organisations have had something similar as an idea, now could be a very good time to give it a serious go.

    It all sounds good. Despite this, be prepared for setbacks and delays. Do a lot of work with retailers, as they'll be the group objecting the loudest. Make sure there's a plan for deliveries, e.g. whether they could mostly be made in the early morning for those business premises that don't have rear access. Some motor vehicle access will still be required occasionally. Are there any private car parks off your chosen streets? Access to these would have to be maintained. Prevent any attempt to introduce one-way streets in the centre, as these are sometimes thought necessary by engineers and transport planners.

    In Hackney, we did a very successful project a few years ago along the same lines in Mare Street Narroway, which is worth looking at if you're ever down in London again. Let me know if you want to be shown around. :)

  • Often pedestrianistation leads to some sort fast one way system or worse a ring road like many cities in the Midlands.
    Not sure if it's the best solution. To make it walking and cycle friendly.

  • Yes, although Sheffield already has a lovely ring road. Having just looked at the city centre briefly, it is also a maze of one-way streets; one aim of any town centre improvement project would have to be to turn these to two-way operation wherever possible, or at least to introduce cycle contraflows.

  • Sorry Oliver but you are wrong on a few things here.

    'Motor-free', 'car-free', 'fume-free' etc. all work better.

    They don't. We've worked with these before and they carry a certain amount of baggage with them around who uses them and some of the perceptions of what they're taken to imply. In an environment with a broad range of politics, culture and backgrounds they can be toxic to your endeavours and lead to a contagious dismissive attitude. We could very easily grind our plans and proposals to a halt. We knew the risks around use of the term "pedestrianise" and the alternatives available and we had some frank internal discussions about what to use. Sometimes knowing your audience is more important than idealised terminology.

    The associated imagery has been useful too so when we've started to talking to people about this, they've already come to the assumption that bicycle will be included too. You say "they will inevitably not think of shared use and cyclists" but "they" are already proving you wrong. You might want to be careful of that sort of use of "they", it can be quite divisive and tribalistic. You say "it squeezes cyclists out" but despite the risk, we're already working past that.

    Fortunately language isn't the only issue. There's been some important underpinning work around this being a thing that will include cyclists. If we get the management of it right the first time round, that will be a foundation piece.

    road closures

    This is always a problematic, negative idea

    You might think that but again, we're back to knowing our audience and the strong value of calling things what they are. I could say all the stuff you have about modal filters and car-freeness and what I'd get back is withering looks and a telling that I'm closing the road. To some people a road closure is the clear and literal you're looking for. Knowing your audience is almost definitely more important than tickboxing your terminology.

    If retailers are going to be objecting the loudest then we're pretty much home free for a permanent change because they have genuinely been our biggest supporters. Sadly they aren't the loudest objectors so we'll probably have a bit more work to do, not all of it with them though.

    And yes, the deliveries (some) and access to private parking (none on the street we're car freeing) were all scoped out and planned for very early on in the process. As was early discussion with members of the emergency services and making links with the local pan-disability access liaison group.

    Be careful of planning for setbacks and delays. I did and then the Council did a lot of heavy lifting to make things happen quickly. If I'd known that, I would have done things differently.

  • Go Sheff.

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Pedestrianisation - A Good News Story

Posted by Avatar for The_Seldom_Killer @The_Seldom_Killer