Place: why is it so important?

Here is a great document from Urban Design London about the value of creating places and how good design can have a big impact on how people behave in a space particularly around speed.

Click to access UDL-Slow-Streets-Sourcebook-Nov-2014-draft.pdf

“Highway authorities traditionally seek to maximise traffic capacity and minimise delay for vehicles by segregating motorised traffic from other modes, approach ignores the ‘place’ aspects of our streets which have been designed to take increasing volumes of traffic to the detriment of the quality and character of the place through which these routes pass” (UDL).

Sound familiar? We are looking to readdress this balance between place and movement functions of the High Street and put people first once again to create an attractive, safe environment which encourages a diverse streetlife, social interaction and more ‘green’ travel in Kings Heath.

With the emerging design, we are aiming to make the High Street look and feel different with proposed wider pavements, gateway features, raised crossing points, visual narrowing, tree planting, street furniture, coordinated signage, etc which will help to give Kings Heath High Street a coherent, identifiable character.

The appearance and use of an area can have a really positive influence on driver, cyclist and pedestrian behaviour and helps to encourage a low speed environment where different users are encouraged to negotiate more with each other.

One idea we have begun to look at is a flat median strip along the High Street which is similar to the example below which acts as an informal crossing reserve along the street in between the formal crossings which visually narrows the street (without affecting road capacity), reduces severance and enables people to move across the street more easily. Our traffic and movement counts have shown a very strong cross movement of people one side of the High Street to another as they try to get to destinations such as shops, cafes, schools and other local facilities.

Let us know what you think of this idea! 

visual narrowing udl

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