woonerf, living streets ,homezones
- I have always thought i agreed with the idea of Homezones, or Living
Streets whenever i've seen them referred to, though I've never lived
in or even visited one. After reading this Independent article below
I'm beginning to wonder.
Is this all about toadying to the car, leaning over backwards to let
cars occupy space we should be preventng them from having?
There are so many contradictory statements in the article its hard to
picture what one of these areas must be like. At one point we're told
cars are pushed to the fringes, then later that its not 'a model for
a carfree community' and then 'we cant sell homes if we banish the
Do these concepts discourage car ownership or car use, or do they let
car owners have their cake and eat it?
Elsewhere i have read posts to this and to cycling groups speaking
favourably of shared use areas where cars are restricted to 17 mph
(here they talk about 10mph).
Restricting cars to 17mph might be fine if applied to all the roads
and streets in the city, but i can see the idea gaining establishment
acceptance by being applied only to the most localised residential
streets. At some point we have to draw the line and say the presence
of cars stationary or moving however slowly is still a nuisance
however reduced the risk from higher speeds. My dislike of cars
isn't just about reducing the risk and danger they create but hoping
we might claim back for humans the space grabbed by these millions of
Probably I'm being over-sceptical and these schemes are heading in
From the Independent:-
Housebuilders adopt Dutch concept of the 'living street' to curb the
By Matthew Beard
09 November 2002
Imagine a modern town centre where cycling becomes carefree, children
play in the road, and the car is emphatically no longer king.
That utopian vision is to become reality in the small but crowded
Hampshire town of Eastleigh, where planners and developers have
agreed to build up 1,000 new homes in accordance with a Dutch concept
that turns the 21st-century predominance of the car over pedestrian
on its head.
Devised in the 1970s, the woonerf, or "living street", has spread to
6,400 communities in the Netherlands and still more in Germany and
Denmark, where it gives permanent right of way to pedestrians and
pushes motorists to the fringes by imposing 10mph speed limits,
reduced parking and traffic-calming measures. The idea is simple but
also contrary to much thinking that traffic and humans are
Yesterday the great and good of Eastleigh gathered to launch the
sales drive aimed at singles and young families for the first phase
of the development. Situated minutes from the town centre, "Park 21"
aims to provide calm for residents, a victory for environmentalists
and a sop to the Government's demand to build 60 percent of new homes
on brown field sites to alleviate the south-east's dire housing
Drivers approaching the 29-acre estate will be made aware they are
entering a car- unfriendly area. Roads will be designed with bends,
and motorists will have to negotiate islands containing shrubs and
trees. Surfaces will not be smoothly tarred but made of cobbles,
bricks and gravel.
Construction work has already begun to fit the brick homes, costing
from £150,000 for a two-bedroomed flat, into the existing grid of
Victorian terraces, which burgeoned when the railway line from London
to the coast was built in the late 19th century.
Under pressure to build new homes but fearful of future congestion,
Eastleigh Borough Council granted permission for the project to
housebuilders Barratt, provided they meet strict environmental
standards. As part of the scheme, the company, still considered by
many to be builders of unimaginative boxes, is committed to building
miles of cycle paths.
Looking at a three-bedroom house for £179,000, Lee Irvine, a married
father, said: "The design of the streets will mean less of a worry as
my daughter grows up and also I need an incentive to use my bike more
than relying on the car."
Woonerf may not be become the model car-free community pioneered at
Prince Charles's Poundbury estate, near Dorchester, but that is not
viable in an urban area, said Keith House, leader of the Liberal
Democrat-run local council.
He described Park 21 as the "biggest urban regeneration project" in
the south-east of England. "The main aims are to provide new homes
and reduce traffic by building out the car by design," he said.
Steven Wilks, managing director of Barratt Southampton,
said: "Problems have arisen when some officials wanted to make the
area all but car-free but the point is we can't sell homes if we
propose to banish the car. That is perhaps something for the future."
Quite how far in the future can be judged by the fact that Barratt
still insisted on parking for 1.5 cars for each new home, the
government maximum. Despite their enthusiasm for the so-called "home
zones", developers would prefer the simpler task of building on
greenfield sites, but while government policy prohibits this they are
making a virtue out of the necessity of going cool on cars.
However, environmental groups are still welcoming estates such as
Park 21 as a move away from the type of low-density estates built
nearby on the M3 corridor where the link between car and home remains
strong. "They are essentially cul-de-sacs with houses set back and
cars on the drive. If you look down one of those roads on a Sunday
morning, the view is dominated by those cars," Mr Wilks said.
Indeed, Park 21, built on the site of a former cable factory, has
much in common with the pedestrian-friendly home zones promoted by
government planners in the past two years with a £30m grant. Under
these schemes, residential areas are converted to virtually car-free
zones. Local authorities have created 61 such home zones, grasping
the opportunity to subsidise traffic calming, curry favour with
residents and lift property prices.
The trend is warmly welcomed by environmental groups. Tony Bosworth,
of Friends of the Earth, said: "Studies have shown that if you cut
the traffic then you get a more friendly, cohesive community. They
are exactly what we should be encouraging to protect the
- --- In carfree_cities@y..., "billt44hk" <telomsha@n...> wrote:
> I have always thought i agreed with the idea of Homezones, or Living
> Streets whenever i've seen them referred to, though I've never lived
> in or even visited one. After reading this Independent article below
> I'm beginning to wonder.
> Is this all about toadying to the car, leaning over backwards to let
> cars occupy space we should be preventng them from having?
> There are so many contradictory statements in the article its hard
Like you, I've never seen one of these homezones. Although cobbled, winding streets, and 10 mph speed limits for cars sounds much better than that to which most of us are accustomed, apparent shortcomings leap out of the description.
Developers say the homes would be unsalable without automobile access. No mention of mass transit is made in the article, so it is likely true that many potential residents would want to own their own personal motorized vehicles. The plan to provide 1.5 parking spaces per home doesn't sound like sufficiently high density development.
Accomodating automobiles but reducing their speed while not adequately accomadating alternatives, increases the high costs to users of automobility. Those transportation realities would seem to make homes in the home zones less desirable than they could be. The aesthetic and community cohesiveness improvements of the design will have to offset the higher travel costs in order for homes to sell. (It seems that this could easily be the case).
In summary, it seems a costly mistake to to go for something other than a truely carfree design with adequate transit. Maybe the response is that, given the cultural and institutional constraints, this is the best for which we can presently hope.
> From the Independent:-
> Housebuilders adopt Dutch concept of the 'living street' to curb the
> By Matthew Beard
> 09 November 2002
> Imagine a modern town centre where cycling becomes carefree, children
> play in the road, and the car is emphatically no longer king.
- Bill Carr replied:
>Accomodating automobiles but reducing their speed while not adequately accomadating alternatives, increases the high costs to users of automobility. Those transportation realities would seem to make homes in the home zones less desirable than they could be. The aesthetic and community cohesiveness improvements of the design will have to offset the higher travel costs in order for homes to sell. (It seems that this could easily be the case).A further issue that is not addressed by home zones is the
problem of traffic on the collector streets. While some residents
of Berkeley benefitted when streets were closed to through
traffic, the remaining arteries saw a significant increase
in traffic. Home zones still have to connect to higher-speed
streets, with all their problems.
Better, maybe, but not a solution.
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J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities