Car Free Roads

the effect of making roads 'car free'

Introduction

This chapter is a comparison of two roads which have been treated differently - one is car free, and one is not.

Site Location

The location of the site is shown in Figure 1. There are two adjacent roads in this comparison, on the edge of Radipole Lake, Weymouth, Dorset, UK. Part of the attraction is that the two roads, treated so differently, are adjacent, enabling a clear comparison.


Figure 1: Location of the site in Weymouth, Dorset, UK

Comparison of the Two Roads

Figure 2 shows in more detail the location of the two roads, Bath Street and Wesley Street. Bath Street is open to vehicular traffic, whereas Wesley Street is blocked off by two black metal gates, one at each end of the street. The gates permit pedestrian access, but prevents access by vehicles.


Figure 2: Location of the two streets

Figure 3 shows a view of Bath Street, a typical street in this part of Weymouth. The street is narrow, with parking down one side of the street. The footways are very narrow, in order to maximise the available width for cars, so that pedestrians have to walk on the road. It's just as well that the traffic flow on this street is so low. Despite this, over half of the width of the road is taken up with car parking. Apart from the public house on the right-hand side of the photograph, none of the house owners/occupiers has added planting outside of their houses - the width of the footways prevents it.


Figure 3: Bath Street, Weymouth

Figure 4 shows a view of Welsey Street. Without vehicular access, the street has been relaid using brick paving rather than tarmac. Additionally, many of the houses have put flower displays in pots outside of their properties, which improves the quality of the street. What is also noticeable is the property on the left-hand side of the photograph - the near absence of windows on this aspect of the building leaves a blank wall, and does nothing towards the appearance of the street. This contrasts greatly with the same view of Bath Street.

When asked where the cars belonging to the residents are parked, the response was that the cars are parked in (aptly) Park Street. In other words, the pedestrianisation of the street has displaced the parking onto another street.


Figure 4: Wesley Street, Weymouth

Figure 5 shows an amended version of Figure 4, clipped to exclude the very unattractive black gate. This gives a much better idea of the feeling of the street. The ambience is much better than Bath Street, and similar streets in this part of Weymouth.


Figure 5: Wesley Street, without the gate

Conclusions

Making Wesley Street pedestrianised has improved the quality of the street, albeit at the cost of moving the car parking onto an adjacent road. It's a pity about the quality of the black gate at the end of the road.