Wandsworth Living Streets: feedback on the meeting

Author: Cyril Richert

About 15 people (me included) gathered to the last meeting of Wandsworth Living Streets on Tuesday 19 April 2011 at the Alma Pub (beside Wandsworth Town station).

The meeting started with a brief explanation on the latest news:

  1. Website: the website for Wandsworth Living Streets will be officially launched in a few days.
  2. 20’s plenty: A lot of work is currently carried out on the Living Streets forum. We were reminded that Richard Tracey, our GLA representative, will be seeking re-election next year; this is an opportunity to bring the subject up.
  3. TfL’s signal policy: 4000 traffic signals should still be changed (reason = smoothing the traffic). Therefore removals are still happening and need to be carefully watched. (see our report of November’s meeting for more explanation).

Ian Ralph (*) gave a presentation exploring how the design of our streets, neighbourhoods and cities is affecting the health and well-being of us all: what type of places tend to support the best levels of social, mental and physical health and the evidence behind making an incontrovertible case for better, safer and more enjoyable streets and spaces.

His presentation made the following points:

  • 72% of people fail to achieve 30 minutes physical activity five times a week.
  • Streets surrounded by walls are unwelcoming.
  • A small percentage of streets take the majority of traffic but the government has allocated minimum resources in term of walking. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has cancelled the Year of Walking and the new super-highways dedicated to bikes see a lot of vehicles using the facility for short parking.
  • Streets were actually originally designed for walking.
  • The Council is doing positive things in Wandsworth Borough (in Clapham Junction the Exemplar Scheme is being implemented with bigger space allocated for pedestrians and safety crossing).
  • Trees along the streets is more effective than camera to slow down vehicles as shown in a TfL study.
  • Target = greater sense of safety, better legibility (suggestion was made to work with local partnerships).
  • Aim: make sure that families and children feel secure in our streets.

(*) Ian Ralph is an urban designer who has worked for Transport for London, and subsequently joined a private sector design consultancy. Ian is a member of Wandsworth Living Streets.

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