The death of driving: How parking spaces are becoming 'Parklets'

The death of driving… by 1,000 cuts: How parking spaces are being quietly replaced by Covid-friendly seats and cycle bays called ‘Parklets’ in towns across UK

  • Parklets are street furniture that fit in parking spaces and extend the pavement
  • Firms are popping up offering to install or provide them to councils and towns
  • But motorists are furious they are putting even more of a squeeze on space 

Motorists are being quietly squeezed off the streets by ‘Parklet’ street furniture that have exploded during the coronavirus pandemic.

The wooden structures extend off the cubs into existing parking spaces and let pedestrians have more space.

Fans also say they can give businesses extra space for customers to wait or – in the case of hospitality under Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions – eat and drink outside with other people. 

But many cities, already groaning under Low Traffic Neighbourhood measures, have been colder in their acceptance of the new structures. 

Alliance of British Drivers founder Hugh Bladon told MailOnline it was another example of motorists’ liberties being eroded.

He said: ‘Councils all over the country, the one thing they hate is anybody using the car or any kind of four-wheeled vehicle

‘They will do anything they can to make it as miserable as possible for drivers. 

Parklets are put into parking spaces and extend the pavement out onto the street 

Parklets have become incredibly popular in London but many motorists are not fans

‘The situation in London and spreading to other cities is absolutely chronic.

‘We have got a situation because they have made these parklets it has brought some areas to a standstill.

‘You have got the emergency vehicles unable to go about their businesses properly because of all of this. We are going to end up with people dying because of this.

‘In my view if that happens, the councils who have done this have got blood on their hands.

Meristem Design is one of the newest companies to be offering them to councils and areas

Meristem’s website has a form for people to fill in to help them ask their authorities for them

‘We have been campaigning vigorously against these. Once you get these things put in – how the hell do you get them take out again? The whole thing is completely crackers, it’s going to take someone strong to say “Put our roads back to normal” but it needs to happen.’ 

One of the country’s newest and fastest growing providers is called Meristem Designs, which is based in London.

Its chairman is David Firth, who is the non-executive director of a number of Alternative Investment Market companies.

The firm proudly tweets about its success stories and even offers a form for interested parties to fill in and it will contact councils for them.   

Parklets are a similar problem to boxes and barriers used for Low Traffic Neighborhoods.

They have prompted outcry from some families over congestion caused by them being in place. 

Council chiefs have removed ‘unsightly’ street barriers in the Scottish town of St Andrews after an outcry from local business owners. 

Fife Council installed the barriers on Market Street, in St Andrews, the town’s busiest thoroughfare.

They were removed after a backlash from business owners, forcing the council to become the latest authority to cave to pressure from locals and remove the barriers. 

Authorities across the UK have come under fire for erecting barriers in busy town and city centres.

The barriers, designed to make more room for pedestrians, have squeezed drivers out from city centres and make it harder for buses and taxi drivers to navigate the narrower streets. 

It comes after barriers were removed from a street in Melton, Leicestershire, and also from Deptford High Street in south east London. 

ANOTHER council removes social-distancing spaces: Town’s pavement-widening barriers are latest to be taken down amid backlash over them squeezing out drivers

  • Fife Council removed the ‘unsightly’ barriers after outcry from local businesses 
  • The barriers on St Andrew’s main road Market Street cut off 30 parking spaces
  • Businesses owners said it was affecting trade, prompting 1,000-strong petition
  • A spate of UK councils have removed barriers after backlash from communities

By Dan Sales For Mailonline

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Council chiefs have removed ‘unsightly’ street barriers in the Scottish town of St Andrews after an outcry from local business owners. 

Fife Council installed the barriers on Market Street, in St Andrews, the town’s busiest thoroughfare.

They were removed after a backlash from business owners, forcing the council to become the latest authority to cave to pressure from locals and remove the barriers. 

Authorities across the UK have come under fire for erecting barriers in busy town and city centres.

The barriers, designed to make more room for pedestrians, have squeezed drivers out from city centres and make it harder for buses and taxi drivers to navigate the narrower streets. 

It comes after barriers were removed from a street in Melton, Leicestershire, and also from Deptford High Street in south east London. 

Fife Council installed the barriers on Market Street (pictured), in St Andrews – the town’s busiest thoroughfare – but had to remove them after a backlash from business owners 

The cordons cut off more than 30 parking spaces, angering locals and business owners as the restrictions affected custom and trade as no one could park along the street

The red and white plastic barriers in St Andrews were reportedly designed to widen pavements and allow more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

But the cordons cut off more than 30 parking spaces, angering locals and business owners as the restrictions affected custom and trade as no one could park along the street.  

– Fife Council had to remove barriers from Market Street in St Andrews, Scotland.

– Melton Borough Council had to remove barriers from Sherrard Street in Leicestershire.

– Lewisham Council took down the barriers put up on Deptford High Street as drivers kep banging into them as they navigated the narrow road.

Fife Council scrapped the ‘Spaces for People’ infrastructure within days of their installation after more than 1,000 people called for a local authority U-turn.

The barriers were pulled down after 60 members of the local business improvement district (BID) formed a petition.

Angry business owners feared the loss of car parking spaces would affect trade and penalise the elderly and disabled who would ‘no longer be able to access the shopping centre without difficulty’.

They wrote on their petition: ‘We understand that Fife Council are implementing these measures on health and safety grounds but some of the measures directly contradict and contravene the government’s recommendations that the public try and avoid public transport and travel by car if possible, to stop the spread of COVID19. 

‘How can they travel if they can’t park?’ 

One social media user branded the barriers ‘unsightly’ and said they were ‘implemented without consideration’ for local businesses. 

Council’s across the country have come under fire for erecting barriers in busy town and city centres. 

One social media user branded the barriers in St Andrews ‘unsightly’ and said they were ‘implemented without consideration’ for local businesses

Stuart Winton posted a picture of the ‘parking suspended’ sign on St Andrew’s Market Street

Bus companies, taxi drivers and private motorists also voice their concern after barriers were put up on a busy street in Melton, Leicestershire. 

The drivers felt the reduced road width made it increasingly difficult to travel through the town centre, reported the Melton Times. 

Red and white markers placed on Deptford High Street in south east London were also removed by the council after they were repeatedly knocked out of formation by drivers trying to navigate the narrow road.  

Defending their decision Fife Council said the barriers were not currently needed and they could return in time for the Christmas shopping rush. 

Altany Craik, convener of Fife Council’s economy, tourism, strategic planning and transportation committee, said: ‘The demand for space varies over time with Christmas expected to have a higher demand for pedestrian space in town centre shopping streets.

Traffic barriers installed on Deptford high street in south east London were also removed

‘Therefore, as the footways are wider in Market Street, the measures have been removed for the time being.

‘However, should things change, and when the town becomes busier again on the run up to Christmas, we will reconsider this area and the potential to provide further space to help with social distancing.’

But some angry locals hit out at the decision to remove the barriers.   

Professor Richard Olver, emeritus professor of child health at the University of Dundee, said: ‘I am frankly shocked to learn that during a public health emergency, a decision has been taken to remove most, if not all, the Spaces for People measures, without further consultation with any stakeholders other than BID St Andrews.

A social media user applauded news that the barriers in St Andrews would be removed

‘St Andrews is peppered with signs instructing pedestrians to keep two metres apart in accordance with Sottish Government guidance, but Fife Council is now dismantling the very measures necessary to allow this to happen.

‘I believe this to be totally irresponsible and it will render safe physical distancing impossible when the streets are busy with students and visitors, forcing people either to rub shoulders or walk into the road – as I personally have had to do on numerous occasions.

‘With an outbreak of coronavirus in the university and an upsurge in cases elsewhere in Fife, the timing could not be worse.

‘Prioritising business interests at the expense of the health needs of the public is surely wrongheaded.

‘After all, neither residents nor visitors will not want to shop in the town centre if they do not feel safe.’ 

 

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