A Cheap Way to Create Greener and Safer Neighborhoods

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The U.K.-based DIY Streets program uses design solutions to blur the lines between space for cars and space for pedestrians

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DIY Streets is a sort of grassroots-oriented neighborhood improvement program in the U.K., sponsored by the British sustainable transport organization Sustrans. It strikes me as somewhat like the Texas-based "Better Block" initiatives in the U.S., but more permanent, combined with a complete streets philosophy and partially designed by activist parents pursuing traffic calming for neighborhood safety.

Laura Laker writes on the Green Living Blog of The Guardian:

Clapton Terrace is one of 11 'DIY Streets', a nationwide project launched by sustainable transport charity Sustrans as a cheap solution to local traffic problems. By narrowing and raising sections of road to pavement level, planting trees and using street furniture and bollards, the scheme forces drivers to slow down by blurring the distinction between space dedicated to cars and pedestrians.

Two years ago locals were fed up as drivers were using their street as a shortcut to avoid a busy junction nearby. They resurrected their residents' group and got together to vote on their own DIY Street . . . The road now feels a lot more spacious as two trees were added beside the road, communal wheelie bins replaced 64 individual bins, and a fence around the nearby green was removed. The site also uses Plantlocks - boxes of plants with bike-friendly bars - where residents can lock bikes.

The next step is apparently a pilot project to take the concept beyond a single street to the neighborhood scale.

Streetfilms has produced a nice short video profiling the Clapton Terrace project. Enjoy:





This post also appears on NRDC's Switchboard.
Image: stevecadman/flickr

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Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. More

Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. He is the author or co-author of Once There Were Greenfields (NRDC 1999), Solving Sprawl (Island Press 2001), Smart Growth In a Changing World (APA Planners Press 2007), and Green Community (APA Planners Press 2009). In 2009, Kaid was voted one of the "top urban thinkers" on Planetizen.com, and he was named one of "the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" in 2010 by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. He blogs at NRDC's Switchboard.
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