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  • Writer's picturerobert thompson

Redefining streets and neighbourhoods

We are faced with multiple challenges as a society: how to reduce traffic speed; how to encourage greater walking and cycling; how to increase biodiversity and nature within our streets; how to tackle social isolation; how to promote neighbourliness.

Never has this been more pressing than now as we are faced with the twin threats of climate emergency on the one hand and Covid-19 on the other.

How we reappraise what our streets do; how they function and how they are perceived, could offer some solutions as these examples from Amsterdam illustrate.

Simple shifts can make a huge difference: removing parking spaces (and hard surfacing) and replacing them with planting increases biodiversity and promotes urban cooling and moderates water run off. The associated reduction in visibility could also help to slow traffic speeds.

Brought together, these measures can help to redefine the street and the sense of ownership and connection to it, as the street party illustrates. Rather than being hemmed into our homes, there is the sense that this can become the extension to our living space; the communal meeting area where we can watch the world go by and chat to neighbours, the place where we can grow something. And grow ourselves.

This is the type of multi functional environments that we should be attempting to create, and it is encouraging to see that it should take much to suddenly see our streets becoming valued and active parts of our neighbourhood lives once more.

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