DIY Streets ? Creating People-friendly Streets, Affordably

DIY Streets ? Creating People-friendly Streets, Affordably


A Allen, Sustrans, UK


The presentation to the European Transport Conference will look in detail at the methodology of creating liveable neighbourhoods in the UK.
It will use Manual for Streets and other current best practice in the UK and Europe to set the general context for


DIY Streets is a UK-wide project that helps residents to re-design their own streets affordably, putting people at their heart, and making them safer and more attractive places to live. The project, coordinated by non-governmental organisation Sustrans, will be in its final stages of its three year programme in October. We are working with eleven resident groups to develop low-cost capital solutions to the most common local traffic problems including speeding, nuisance parking and rat-running. These issues can be considered among the key contributors to today?s diminished community activity in residential streets. The aim - to find simple interventions and materials which are both effective and durable - is a new twist to creative street design, inspired by the original Dutch woonerf, or home zone, concept.

Though home zones were piloted in the UK in 2001 it seems unlikely that there will be a large-scale roll out. With local transport budgets continually stretched, and the high cost per household, highways authorities struggle to make the case for home zones. But it is clear that there were many positive outcomes of the early pilot projects, particularly the wider social and environmental benefits of the community-led approach and the more innovative physical features which calm traffic as well as enhance the street?s capacity to function as a social space.

Working in areas of comparative economic deprivation, DIY Streets focuses on addressing the unequal burden faced by residents here (for example; poorer children are four times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a traffic accident than those better off). DIY Streets applies many of the key design features used in home zones, including both physical measures such as reduced sightlines, chicanes and speed tables; as well as psychological measures. These include creating a ?lived in? feel by introducing planters and art works, which both humanise the space as well as encourage all who use it to do so with care.

DIY Streets also seeks to demonstrate how community involvement is integral to the project?s long-term success. Residents are encouraged from the outset to participate in designing an appropriate solution to their traffic issues. Residents are asked to contribute their opinions and ideas to a new street design and work towards establishing an active community group to support the new interventions once they are in place. By focusing on the residents concerns at the outset, and working with them throughout, DIY Streets hopes to demonstrate the strength of partnership working between residents and the Council.

Manual for Streets, new UK government guidance published in 2007, creates the basis for wider implementation of ?place-based? street design in the UK, of which DIY Streets is a part. The Manual represents a strong commitment to the creation of sustainable and inclusive public spaces in line with best practice across Europe. Not only does the DIY Streets project pick up on elements of street design championed by the Manual but is attempting to demonstrate the strength of a collaborative street design team. Input has been sought from a range of professionals including engineers, urban designers, landscape architects, highways maintenance teams, arborioculturists, and artists

The presentation to the European Transport Conference will look in detail at the methodology of creating people-friendly streets in the UK. It will use Manual for Streets and other current best practice in the UK and Europe to set the general context for DIY Streets. It will elaborate on the importance of its approach to community design work and highlight the role and benefits of partnership working. Through detailed case studies of the streets (most of which will have been built by the conference date), the presentation will focus on the practical issues of creating liveable environments within city streets, including design details, costs and evaluation techniques.

Extra notes:
If facilities (space and time) allow, this presentation could include a practical demonstration element, with the presenter using a table-top miniature street to demonstrate the principles interactively with conference delegates (photos attached)


Association for European Transport