A number of people have contacted me recently highlighting how they’ve found it increasingly difficult to social distance in Woolwich over recent days as numbers in the town centre increase.
Are we seeing the lockdown failing here? I’ve now been (yes it was essential) and it was certainly busy. I was a bit taken aback even when told to expect a fair few people. But we have no idea and whether people could be making essential trips. That wasn’t really the issue. It’s how design changes could be made to assist people. There’s places where wide roads could see a lane close to permit more space to pedestrians:
Some work is being undertaken in parts of London such as in Hammersmith and Fulham:
Pavements in the busy shopping areas of King Street and Uxbridge Road are to be temporarily widened to help with social distancing. Installation will begin tomorrow and the measures fully in place by Friday.
Full details here👇https://t.co/mDrxFjdvwH
— H&F Council (@LBHF) April 22, 2020
It could be that authorities that already place importance on improving streets for pedestrians have an embedded culture and structures in place to act. Hammersmith & Fulham, for example, already allocate very large sums each year towards improving streets including £20 million from parking income and £9 million from developer income. In Greenwich borough it is zero from each this year:
But it’s not design but businesses failing to allow enough space for pedestrians. Photos sent show areas where keeping distance was nigh on impossible.
This area has always been poor for pedestrians.
The same old problems with displays and advertising boards are making it impossible to now give space to passing people. I’m reliably informed the council’s new wardens were patrolling and did little.
Weeks ago the authority stated they were warning people. If they did then not here – or at least are not being listened to. One photo sent to me highlighted a guy on crutches who had to navigate through:
Clutter makes it hard for wheelchair users and those with buggies and prams at the best of times let alone now.
Then there is Powis Street. An obstacle course of litter doesn’t help people keep their distance. This was after Iceland closed and footfall fell but hardly great when busy with shoppers:
Street design in the area also pushes pedestrians closer together:
Why there’s raised areas around trees I’m not sure. There used to be lighting embedded into paving. It wasn’t really maintained then removed (sound familiar in Woolwich?).
So anyway, considering there’s a pandemic going on the town appears pretty busy even before adding in obstacles from businesses and narrow paving. For me a month of pretty successfully giving people space at shops and in general was blown apart in half an hour.