One of the major pieces of the Pocket Places street re-design was to address several concerns around accessibility in the centre of town. Making the area outside the station and outside McDonalds feel less like a busy highway and more like a town centre which can be easily shared by everyone.
As part of the ongoing design process we are planning a temporary pattern on the road in this area. Using a sun beam motif we are highlighting the movement of pedestrians. By creating an unusual environment for motorists, which is less like a conventional road, we aim to encourage them to be more aware of pedestrians, and thus encouraging them to slow down. This technique is sometimes referred to as psychological traffic calming, and it aims to change the mindset of road users – it asks drivers to think differently and re-connect with their surroundings rather than forcing them through physical features like speed humps. It has been proved to be successful elsewhere. We hope that it encourages people to think about and use the street in different ways. We will be watching closely to see. (Please click on the plan below to enlarge it).
In addition to improving the environment for pedestrians we hope that this bright, colourful and fun feature will add to the sense of place and celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of the street.
We are doing this in response to early discussions with people in Peckham about the narrow pavements and the heavy pedestrian traffic in this area and also with a view to the future when the square in front of the station may be opened up, attracting even more people on foot. This is also being seen as a way to link the station with its immediate surroundings as well as linking the pocket place at Holly Grove and Elm Grove with the area in front of the Peckhamplex cinema which is already a popular walking and cycling route.
We will be asking people what they think about this intervention over the weeks that it is on the road, monitoring how it makes pedestrians feel, asking motorists what their experience of it is like. Should the response be positive it could lead to a permanent traffic calming method being implemented in this area, not necessarily with a pattern, unless that’s what local people want. It could be similar to the raised surface that crosses Peckham Hill Street next to the library where you often find motorists spontaneously giving way to pedestrians. (See image below)
For now, what we are doing is a temporary measure, the paint we are using is a non-toxic eco temporary paint which will wear off in a few weeks, we will be painting it at the start of June. If the effects of painting the ‘Rye Lane Sun’ on the road are positive then we know that we need to make some more robust permenant changes to keep it that way. Sustrans have been using these ‘Psycological Traffic Calming’ techniques for several years, often in association with other calming methods such as raising the road to slow traffic to the point of allowing a more positive pedestrian environment. You can see a video here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WawJKtvVHKs)about a street in Oxford where they created a ‘street carpet’ with paint to slow down speeding traffic. These methods are proven to support a better balance of space between all users of the street, you can find the research that supports this approach here… (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/manual-for-streets).
We originally asked our mailing list what colour we should paint the ‘sun’ and most of the suggestions were for blue, there are concerns that it may get confused with the Cycle Super Highways so we are making sure to choose a different shade. Here’s what we have already done in Bournemouth Close towards the Southern end of Rye Lane to encourage motorists to slow down and give more priority to pedestrians and it has been really successful in changing the way most motorists behave in this area.