The People Parking Bay

Monday, June 19th, 2017. 3:56pm

I have been asked to to comment on the People Parking Bay which has been created in Hackney, London:

The People Parking Bay is a fantastic piece of activism encouraging people to think about how we use the space currently taken up by parked cars on the roads in our cities.

In Cambridge we have seen some initial hard-won small changes, for example on Thoday Street a couple of car parking spaces have been replaced with cycle parking and the remodelling of Tenison Road has introduced a couple of new street trees.

As Cambridge’s population grows, and the way people get around changes, its right that the roads, and how we use them, continue to change too. Over time we’ve seen motor traffic travelling through the city get pushed further out, and more routes with low motor traffic levels have emerged.

It’s not just trees and bike parking; as the stunt in Hackney shows we could have more public seating; we could also switch from tarmac to planted gardens or grass verges and introduce art and well designed lighting. There’s also potential for commercial use of the highway for advertising, and restaurant / cafe seating. Reallocating road-space tends to be hugely controversial. We need councillors who will ensure the roads and pavements are safe, particularly for more vulnerable users, and councillors who are open to change and making the city a more pleasant place to live. The provision of facilities like seats, and public toilets, make areas of our city accessible to those who would otherwise not be able to, or not comfortably be able to, make use of them.

We shouldn’t never assume things have to stay the way they are. Ultimately it’s up to us all, through the councillors we elect, how we use the city’s road space differently. We need councillors who are prepared to lead and who won’t be deterred by any initial objection to change. In some places there’s even the potential to build much needed housing on what’s currently highway if roads are remodelled, though we have to be careful not to constrain the options for our transport system in the future.

Introducing planters, benches, and temporary cycle parking is quite an easy thing to do as an experiment; and if it works it can be enhanced and made permanent. Cambridge is receiving lots of national investment in its transport system; there’s an opportunity if our councillors take it, to make our streets much safer, and more pleasant as well as to make them more effective at enabling people to get from one place to another.

One comment/update on “The People Parking Bay

  1. Richard Taylor Article author

    A further comment:

    …an interesting question is what level of public support should be required before a change is made. Should there be majority support before a car parking space is put to a new use, or if that space is just say one of a hundred, is the support of one-percent of residents sufficient? That’s a debate we’ve seen play out in Cambridge. It’s reasonable to reallocate a small amount of road space in light of a demand from a minority; but we need councillors who will stand up and make the case to the majority and explain why doing so is fair, and get them on-side too.

    See also: – November 2013

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