CROYDON COMMENTARY: Creating cycle Quietways throughout London, including Croydon, offers numerous, unexpected benefits, according to KRISTIAN GREGORY
Live on a busy rat run? How would you like to live on a quiet cul-de-sac instead, without having to move home?
It isn’t a new concept, but it’s new to Croydon. You take a residential road that is carrying far more motor traffic than it is designed for and put heavy planters in the road. These planters are then filled with soil for growing flowers, herbs, vegetables or whatever else the residents want. The planters stay in place long enough for drivers to get used to the new layout, and for residents to experience the benefits of a home in a cul-de-sac. If they don’t like it, it can be re-opened to traffic.
Initially, residents may feel the new layout is less convenient. However, the benefits will creep up on them as the experiment progresses.
On a scorching hot day, windows will be open to catch the cool breeze but the dull roar of passing traffic and the smell of exhaust fumes will be noticeably absent. The street is now safe enough for children to play out, and the murmur of children laughing or neighbours chatting may be the only sound. The quietness is relaxing, anxiety fades.
Studies have also shown that community cohesion is better on streets that carry smaller volumes of traffic. If you live on Norbury Avenue, don’t be surprised if you know your neighbours a bit better by the end of this trial.
You’re also now connected to the only cycling Quietway in this part of London.
When the Quietway route is completed, you’ll be able to take your family for a safe and pleasant cycle along this corridor. Cycle to Tooting Bec with the family for a morning swim at the lido. Escape the cramped northern line and cycle all the way to Waterloo on similar such roads. Drop into Clapham Junction for a guilt-free breakfast at Jack’s. This scheme opens the door to easy health and well-being opportunities.
The icing on the cake? The benefits described mean that demand is higher for properties on cul-de-sacs than those on busy roads, so the value of your home on Norbury Avenue has likely jumped by thousands of pounds overnight.
If this sounds good, perhaps you’d like to see it on your street?
The Norbury Avenue project shows the way to make Croydon streets nicer places to live. The planters are easy to install and the trial nature of the project means no expensive traffic impact studies are needed. Talk to your neighbours and see how they feel about living on a cul-de-sac for a few months.
If people like the idea, engage your local councillor and ask them to help you trial this on your street. Tell them you want what the residents of Norbury Avenue have got.
- Kristian Gregory is a member of the Croydon Cycling Campaign
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