Slowing Down—and Sprucing Up—Streets in the UK


Credit: Sustrans’ DIY Streets Project


Do it yourself (DIY) has long been a staple of Britain’s can-do culture and the recently established DIY Streets project is no exception. Launched in the United Kingdom by sustainable transport charity Sustrans, DIY Streets has been utilized as a cheap solution to local traffic problems. Eleven projects have been completed in England and Wales. As its name would indicate, DIY Streets brings communities together to help them redesign their streets, reducing speeding and enhancing pedestrian safety, and thus making neighborhoods safer and more attractive places to live.

There is nothing radical in this approach, and in fact, it’s one we’re seeing more of not just in the UK, but throughout Europe and in cities in the United States like Portland, Dallas, and San Francisco. By narrowing and raising sections of road to pavement level, planting trees, and using street furniture and bollards, drivers are forced to slow down. Blurring the distinction between space dedicated to cars and pedestrians is the key. Street furniture, also increasingly seen in urban intervention projects, was also used. Here, it was Plantlocks ingenious planters, which double as bike racks.

As Laura Laker writes on The Guardian’s Green Living Blog, “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.”