How to reduce and slow down traffic in your street

Children play in the street

Reducing the volume and speed of traffic can change the feel of a street

Children drawing on the road

Streets can become places for children to play outdoors

people walking

There are plenty of simple changes you can consider to reduce traffic in your street

Many residential streets have become dominated by cars and speeding traffic, meaning fewer people feel safe to walk and cycle so they end up using their cars, adding to congestion and pollution – a vicious cycle. But, there are ways you can change your street to make it quieter, cleaner and safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Change road layout and appearance

Physical traffic calming measures force drivers to slow down to negotiate them. These can include:

  • narrowing the entrance to a street
  • creating a chicane
  • build outs
  • speed humps
  • implementing a 20 mph speed limit

Psychological traffic calming methods such as trees, plants and art works which, by narrowing and softening the street, can reduce forward visibility which discourages drivers from speeding.

Features that give a message to drivers that they are entering a unique residential area where pedestrians have priority. These features could be children’s play or sitting areas combined with trees and plants.

Encourage residents to drive less

Organise a street event to raise awareness of the traffic issues in your street and give alternatives to getting around by car.

Why not encourage people to try out cycling and walking instead? You can ask your local school if they have Travel Plans which encourage children and staff to walk, scoot and cycle to school (LINK TO big pedal) or start your own “walk, scoot or cycle to school” group.

Cycling is not just for the school run. You can ask your local council if they have a cycling officer to arrange bike training and cycling events for everyone in your area.

Parked cars

If parked cars have taken over and it is difficult to get around on foot or find parking in the street, ask your local council to consider implementing a Resident Only Parking Zone (RPZ) or Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ). There may be a small annual fee for this in exchange for limiting the times and places people can park.

When using the car, try to car-share for trips to the city, supermarket or school with other residents heading in the same direction. It reduces traffic and pollution and helps you get to know your neighbours.

Another effective way to reduce the number of parked cars is to look into a car club and a dedicated parking space for it in your street or very close by. Once you join a car club you can very easily rent the car by the hour or day for a very reasonable cost. For irregular but fairly frequent use it is much cheaper than owning your own car since all tax and maintenance is done for you by the organisation. To find out if a car club already operates in your area, check with Carplus.  They also have information about car sharing.

Turn your ideas into reality

If you feel inspired and want to get started, you will need agreement from the community before making any changes. For any structural changes, you will also need: 

  • A vision and a plan
  • Approval from the council
  • Funding

Find out how to involve the community in redesigning your street

Read our guide on making your street safer and greener

See examples of our work with communities