Clawing bigger bits of green back from the asphalt

Parklets, plus.

Lots of people are doing parklets these days – re-purposing a single on-street parking spot as a garden or seating area, usually right in front of their own home or business. But what about places where roads or parking spaces are whittling away larger existing green spaces? You can, unfortunately, find examples of this almost anywhere – here are a few from the London borough of Haringey.

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This bit of Oulton Road (above) cuts diagonally across what would otherwise be a green square, within a densely populated residential area and just behind Seven Sisters Primary School, London N15. A completely unnecessary piece of tarmac, there’d be space here for more trees, a basketball court … lots of options for better use.

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This little patch of trees is Graham Green (above), a short way from the Turnpike Lane underground and bus station (N22). It’s got parking on all three sides, with parking permits extended to nearby businesses as well as residents. Replacing the parking with planting could extend the green area by a couple of metres on each side – a lot for this small green. Nearby parking structures have surplus space – business parking could move there.

Going now to the other side of the tracks: on Crouch Hill (N8), we find Crescent Road. The road is filtered – bollards preventing through motor traffic to or from the A103. The great walking/running/cycling route of Parkland Walk sits on one side; on the other are one end of Coleridge Primary School and of the strip of greenery between the school and the A103. Joining up green areas can be important for biodiversity – surely this is a bit of tarmac and spaces that could be sacrificed for trees.

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A short way off, at the other end of Crescent Road, we find Avenue Road Common. As the name suggests (and see map), it’s more road than common: a tiny bit of grass and trees, paved footpath and then parking all around.

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The UK government’s CO2 target calls for far more trees than the country is actually planting; too many street trees, squeezed between footpath and roadway and close to houses, are smallish ornamentals which are anyway not allowed to grow big (and thus not allowed to provide shade or impound carbon) because insurance companies fret about foundations. It is time to join with those who would make London the first “national park city“, by seizing on places like those shown here to push back the asphalt, and let the trees advance.

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Haringey Transport Strategy vs. Green Lanes Report, or, deference (again) to traffic

I’ve just had the pleasure of reading the London Borough of Haringey’s Transport Strategy 2018: Draft for Public Consultation, and also the final report for the borough’s Green Lanes Area Transport Study. Friday 22nd December – tomorrow – is the last day to comment on the draft Transport Strategy. What’s to be said?

The Strategy is full of worthy goals – improved public transport, better walking and cycling environment, reduced traffic, cleaner air. Gotta love it for that. These are all stated in extremely general terms, but a load of implementation plans are promised: a Walking and Cycling Action Plan, a Parking Action Plan, a Sustainable Transport and Travel Action Plan, and a Local Implementation Plan. Given all the virtuous aspirations expressed in the Strategy, one is tempted to sit back and wait for equally virtuous, but more specific, Plans.

This reverie of a green and pleasant Haringey lifts quickly on reading the Green Lanes report where, to pollute that image, the rubber hits the road. Continue reading

Parking at the gasworks

(of strictly local interest)

This plan (comment deadline today) is for 1,700 flats, 4,000 square metres of retail / restaurant etc., and 7,500 square meters of office space.

1. Car parking

No parking for the retail or offices, because of proximity to transit – so far, so good.

The problem is residential parking. The outline applicaton, approved back in 2009, was for up to 251 car parking spaces. The current application is for 425 spaces. More parking means more traffic and it means higher building costs, and hence higher prices for the flats.

This site is perfect for car free development. Continue reading

Green Lanes Consultation: Item by Item

Yesterday I blogged about the severe limitations of the Green Lanes Traffic & Transport consultation. There’s a lot in the consultation, however, much of it pretty good, some of it excellent, and you should answer it. It is long, but comes in several sections (packages), and you only need to answer the ones that interest you. Here are my answers, item by item, with a bit of further explanation.

Package AW: Area-wide improvements

01 Improve streetscape. Support. Mostly simple inoffensive stuff, enforcing rules that already exist. In this spirit, how about also taking out those extra wide new “phone” installations on Green Lanes, which are just Trojan horses for hoardings on busy sections of pavement?

02 Greater provision of car clubs. Strongly support. Makes cars available when needed while discouraging over-use & taking up less space for parking storage. Continue reading

Better cycling infrastructure, or make driving more costly? Yes.

Good cycling infrastructure is extremely important for increasing cycling and for reducing the use of cars in our towns and cities. On main roads, that means protected (segregated) cycle lanes; on side roads it means filtered permeability – pedestrians and cycles go through, cars and trucks don’t. There’s plenty of evidence for the importance of such infrastructure.

But when the UK cycling organization road.cc runs the headline “Cycle infrastructure responsible for 85% of cycling increase“, I have to object. This is the message of Infrastructure, Infrastructure and Infrastructure gone mad. If you read just that headline, you’ll be left with the impression that nothing much matters other than infrastructure. Even if you read the whole article, you won’t know why that interpretation is dead wrong.
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Map: corporate shuttle routes from San Francisco to the Silicon Valley

– map from Eric Rodenbeck, writing (and mapping) in Wired. Thanks to Louis Suárez-Potts for the link.

For many, San Francisco’s transition from center of finance, trade and manufacturing to a new role as a suburb of the Silicon Valley (the latter comprising the ex-surburbs to its south), seems wrong – a vibrant, heterogeneous city gentrified, converted into a pretty place for techies to perch. It feels wrong to me, too, but at the same time it says something beautiful to me: Continue reading

In paradise, build on the parking lot

Now cars only, soon no cars


In a more civilized country this would be entirely unremarkable, but in the city of my birth it’s a sign of great progress: for at least the second time in a year, the San Francisco Planning Commission has approved construction of a city-center apartment building with no car parking and a number of indoor bicycle parking spaces. The site is currently a parking lot, and was once under a freeway. Progress!
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