Sustrans has launched a flexible, modular ‘street kit’ which the charity hopes will help communities test different street layouts. Inspired by the construction of a bike chain, the kit comprises interlocking plastic seating which can be laid out in different ways to create temporary public spaces.
Sustrans says that the kit can be used to trial new layouts, such as the inclusion of wider kerbs at junctions to slow traffic, or to try and reduce through traffic on residential roads to make the environment more inviting to cyclists and pedestrians. At the London launch this week, it was used to reclaim parking bays.
The kit comprises hollow plastic units which can be linked together. As links are hollow, they are light and easy to carry from place to place, but once in position they can be filled with water to make them more stable. They can also be finished with reflective stickers so they can be seen at night.
Peter Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture said:
“I’m a great fan of the idea of using temporary installations to try out whether we can change the way we use streets. The great thing about the Sustrans street kit is that it's adaptable - if people like the new setup they can keep it, if they don’t like it they can change it.
“There are literally hundreds of streets across London that could be improved by having somewhere to sit with improved landscaping and calmed traffic. There are a lot of changes currently taking place on streets around London, it fits in well with the sorts of changes happening in the ‘Mini Holland’ projects in Walthamstow and Kingston.”
Matt Winfield, Deputy Director of Sustrans London said that the kit had been designed after seeing the success of similar experiments in San Francisco and Portland where semi-permanent installations had helped change the way people thought about roads and public space.
Pointing out that streets make up 80 per cent of the accessible open space in our towns and cities, Winfield said: “I hope that from the confidence gained through testing street redesigns with our street kit, communities and local authorities will be able to make permanent changes to our towns and cities to create better places for people.”