Urban Update 8 May 2019

22 May 2019 - London


People Friendly Big Streets

How better approaches to street design can complement low traffic neighbourhoods

Most councils now accept that the need to provide people friendly places is a top-level priority.  Low-traffic neighbourhoods are one of the most effective means of doing this, but they require through-traffic to be kept to main streets.  It is on main streets that one finds shops, schools, medical centres and hospitals and many key civic buildings, and it is here that traffic brings noise, pollution, severance and danger.  

14th century building and 6 lanes of empty tarmac, Birmingham

The approach to designing main streets has, for decades, been vehicle-dominated, focusing on the free-flow of traffic, rather than the importance of creating a people-friendly environment.  Many towns and cities have seen the use of multi-lane carriageways, complex signal-controlled junctions, traffic islands, barriers, signs and lines, and large land-grabbing roundabouts.   Even now there is pressure to demolish buildings to provide additional peak highway capacity.  What should be delightful environments, have been left damaged and brutalised by infrastructure that is wholly out of scale with the surrounding town.

But there are alternatives.  There are examples of boulevards in the UK and overseas that handle high levels of traffic.  Schemes such as Poynton, Cheshire, have demonstrated that it is possible to accommodate significant flows of traffic without the need for a heavy highway infrastructure.  And elsewhere there are successful examples of road-space reallocation on main streets, including providing widened footways, segregated cycle paths, trees and landscape.

Rijswijk, Holland ©Graham Smith  - in 2005 


This event will show what can be done to humanise these vitally important spaces.


Introductionby Simon Bayliss of HTA Design

The history of Distributor Roads and what other places are designing instead

Graham Smith, Consultant, UDG Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, formerly of Oxford Brookes

The role of big streets within an urban context and sharing modal priorities

Ian Hingley, Urban Movement

Humanising an existing dual carriageway into a linking urban avenue to connect the Medway Towns

Duncan Berntsen, Medway Council

The ideal qualities of a successful big streets

Nicholas Boys Smith, Create Streets 

7.30pm : 30 minute panel discussion

8.00pm : Event ends 


  Tickets available on Eventbrite

  • UDG members £5
  • London Living Streets members and not-for-profits £5
  • Non-members £7
  • Students £3

With many thanks to HTA for providing their offices for this event in the Making People-Friendly Places series.

Venue: HTA Design, 78 Chamber Street, London, E1 8BL

Click here for map.


Other forthcoming events…

Creating Neighbourhoods not Housing Estates – Sorry Fully Booked

9 May 2019 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Association of Regional Urban Designers - Inaugural Meeting

15 May 2019 - 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Book launch of 'Public Space and Social Cohesion'

17 May 2019 - 5:00pm - 7:00pm