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Monday, December 14, 2015

Are roads for cars or kids? My part in the fight to make people-friendly streets @GuardianUS

Consultation on this Mini Holland proposal for Enfield town centre closes on Friday.
 A consultation on the Mini Holland proposal to make Enfield town centre bike friendly closes on Friday. Photograph: Cycle Enfield
My sister Sally started it when she sent me a video about Playing Out – the seminal Bristol project which closes residential roads to traffic so children can play freely – adding: “Shame you couldn’t do this on your street.” Nothing goads like a sibling, and two years later our Palmers Green rat-run was an official London Play Street. Each month traffic is blocked off for three hours and the children play out with bikes, scooters, balls and chalk. Our girls, aged five and eight when it started, love it. It was a revelation seeing the tarmac used for something other than cars, and we got to know our neighbours in a way that was not possible when we only used the street to park on. 
The other revelation was the attitude of those neighbours who hated the idea. They organised a petition against the play street, and quotes from the time include: “Roads are for cars, not kids”, “We’ll be a magnet for paedophiles” and “Who’s going to pay when my car gets scratched?” Now these same neighbours have either approved the renewed play street order, or take part as stewards. I guess they just needed to see it up and running.

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