Unaccustomed calm

Park Road, Radlett, Herts, 21 August 2005
We live on the main road through our village (we like to call it a village. It is, of course, a twisted suburb – with good access to the M25). Anyway, our road is closed at the moment for resurfacing which explains why I’ve been lying on the white line looking up at the August sky quite a bit lately.

The whole experience has left me feeling quite light-headed. It’s so quiet. I feel like doing something crazy: taking a football out there for a kickabout or throwing a street party or even making the acquaintance of the people who live over the road (except they look a bit weird).

Quite a long time ago, Jane Jacobs did some research on the effect of traffic speed on the likelihood that you’ll ever cross the road to talk to the people who live there. It’s quite simple: the faster the cars are going, the less likely you are to cross the road. Traffic calming does more than improve safety, it makes us more friendly.

I can’t find a decent reference to Jacobs’ research on traffic speed and sociability but The Death and Life of Great American Cities is where she first wrote about it and here she is back in New York. And this is what my street looked like in about 1900.

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  1. Steve, I have to comment

    “I’ve been lying on the white line looking up at the August sky quite a bit lately”

    and you say your neighbours

    “except they look a bit weird”

    I’ve love to hear their reaction to finding you lying in the middle of the road 🙂


  2. Don’t mind Steve, er, Steve. I think lying in the road (when it’s closed) and looking up at the sky is a great idea. And anyway, why haven’t your neighbours crossed the road to come and see you? (Or at least meet in the middle of the road and ask you what you’re doing there).

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