Statement from The Strathbungo Society Committee
Traffic and parking in Strathbungo present a problem of ever increasing severity; recently we have been informally advised that it will soon be necessary to restrict parking in Regent Park, Queen and Marywood Squares to a single side in order to allow access for emergency vehicles. Fire vehicles in particular are increasingly unable to get along these streets. There is however an alternative more radical solution to this problem that will also take care of many of the other environmental problems associated with Strathbungo’s streets. It is clearly not practicable to think of restricting use of the streets to pedestrians alone (pedestrian precinct) but it is possible to consider a residential precinct. This type of arrangement has been extensively used in Holland where it is known as a Woonerf (plural Woonerven).
A Woonerf is a residential area in which traffic is not allowed to dominate and in which this fact is emphasised by the use of a special layout which physically restricts moving traffic speeds particularly by the use of attractive street furniture. In a Woonerf pedestrians and traffic share the same street area, there are no pavements and no separate road surface; drivers are required to ensure the safety of pedestrians, and must expect that children will be playing on the street. In a typical Woonerf the parking space available is usually about half that of the conventional street layout. (In Strathbungo this would mean that extensive use will have to be made of back garden parking.) Dutch experience has shown that the amount of traffic flowing through a Woonerf must be restricted to that having destinations in the area only – through traffic must be excluded. (In Strathbungo this would require that Moray Place be at least blocked at Nithsdale Road). It is of course necessary to demonstrate by the use of signs that motor vehicles are entering a Woonerf so that drivers will know that vehicle speeds must be restricted to about walking pace. Parking areas in a Woonerf are physically defined by a change of street surface (eg. colour or finish) and by the use of small P symbols set in the surface. Parking areas are also laid out by the arrangement of the street furniture (lamp standards, plant tubs etc) which is also used to introduce ‘dog legs’ which will keep down traffic speed. The street furniture is also used to ensure that moving vehicles cannot pass directly in front of garden gates. [Because of the necessity to confine moving traffic, streets in a Woonerf must be one-way only. In Strathbungo use of the Woonerf principle would therefore also require the introduction of a traffic management scheme.]
Representatives of the Strathbungo Society were recently invited to a meeting with the Roads Department at which it was revealed that the Department was studying the possibility of creating a residential precinct which would eventually extend throughout Strathbungo. The committee of the Strathbungo Society is of the opinion that every encouragement should be given to the Roads Department to work out their proposals in full and has invited a representative of the Department to attend the A.G.M. of the Society, when there will be an opportunity for members to see slides of Dutch Woonerven and look at plans providing details of typical street layouts in Woonerven.
So, what do you think? Could this work? Comments welcome.
What we forgot to mention when this was first published was that we lifted it word for word from the Strathbungo Society newsletter.
Of 1979. That’s forty years ago.
Since then the number of cars has increased over 200% (more on that later) and they have taken over the pavements too. The only place to walk in some streets is in the road, and it doesn’t feel safe. Is that progress?
Woonerf in Manchester
Before and after images of one of the approved plans for improving walking and cycling in Manchester.