Transformation of Walworth Road
The Walworth Road is a busy retail high street in Southwark that forms part of the A215 arterial corridor to London.
With 20,000 vehicles daily, 180 buses an hour and dedicated bus lanes , Walworth Road is a strategic route for the ambulance and blood transfusion services with London hospitals.
Southwark Council had found that the existing road layout was unsafe for the 20,000 pedestrians who visit Walworth Road daily. Despite 750 metres of railings penning pedestrians on to narrow pavements in the high street, there were 250 traffic accidents within three years.
People also said that the road divided the shopping centre and communities on each side of the street and they didn't feel safe after dark.
Local traders complained that in 2006, 4,500 parking tickets were issued for parking in the bus lanes outside their shops.
Importantly any changes to the road layout could not delay ambulances or blood transfusion routes to London hospitals.
So the challenge involved satisfying multiple stakeholders that stretched beyond the local area.
Project Centre's integrated design approach sought to provide a civic focus, reduce the fear of crime and reduce the street's CO2 emissions as well as improve road safety.
Project Centre's designers used VISSIM and VISSUM traffic modelling software to show TfL that changes proposed within the solution would not delay their buses.
TfL's approval gave the green light for a far more extensive redesign of the area. To start with, 750 metres of railings could be removed from the centre of the high street, pavements could be widened and loading facilities could be provided for local shops.
Trees and a central pedestrian island transformed Walworth Road from an arterial corridor into an attractive and safer place to visit and shop in, with the trees offsetting over 4 tonnes of C02 annually.
Project Centre's urban designers used subtle methods to slow traffic by introducing low visual impact, gentle sweeping curves to the narrower carriageway. New lighting reduced street clutter and increase luminance at junctions and crossing points.
The new design has proved to be an immediate success.
Bus patronage has increased by 2% and traffic surveys show improvements in bus times.
Initial accident data shows that there have been no accidents in the first year within the redesigned area. This contrasts with elsewhere on the Walworth Road where accidents have stayed at similar levels
The Metropolitan Police report that street robberies in the area have reduced and recognise the contribution that the improved lighting in the hours of darkness has made.
The new loading bays set off the carriageway have had a dramatic impact. In the year before they were introduced 4,532 parking tickets were issued. This has dropped to 1,472 tickets in 2008, the reduction being greatly welcomed by local traders.
The new design has transformed the appearance of the street, producing a vibrant, safe, high quality public space for the local community.
Project Centre's Walworth Road design was recently recognised for the Walking and Public Realm Award at the London Transport Awards, adding to an earlier win at the British Parking Awards.
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