Reducing car use is key to the better use of our land
01 April, 2021
‘The cars stored on our streets are unused for 98 per cent of the time’
• ISLINGTON has seen great change during the Covid-19 pandemic, with offices, shops, restaurants and other businesses forced to close, and many of us working from home.
With more of us spending time locally, now is a great time to consider how our streets can be a resource for all residents, especially those most in need.
On successful city streets, as author Jane Jacobs argued, “people must appear at different times”.
More human interaction helps to reduce crime, while mixed-use neighbourhoods also engender trust, since neighbours get to know each other more easily.
We already know this human interaction is promoted by reducing motor traffic, as we have seen here in Islington with the St Peter’s people-friendly streets scheme. This human contact is vital in tackling isolation and building strong communities.
To allow more space on streets for people, we must look at the single greatest consumer of that space, parked cars.
Parking spaces are rented at far less than true value in Islington, and sometimes at zero charge, even though drivers are a more wealthy minority of residents.
The cars stored on our streets are unused for 98 per cent of the time and all the while they depreciate in value.
Instead of subsidised vehicle storage, we can instead add value to our streets, with uses such as pocket parks, coffee bars, vegetable patches, shady trees, or simply benches to sit and chat – especially appreciated by elderly and disabled people.
Current changes to reduce car use, supported by residents (https://www.lowtrafficislington.org) will allow more scope for reducing the enormous area devoted to parking (7,900 acres of London worth £172billion) and to repurpose this land to the benefit all residents.
This will cut pollution, tackle inactivity and obesity, promote community cohesion, and help to address the climate crisis.
K FALLON, N1