Busy London street reclaimed

young girl enjoys the new parklet in Hackney
3 July 2015

England’s first San Francisco-style ‘parklet’ has been installed in redundant road space in Hackney transforming it into a sanctuary for people to park their bikes, hang out and relax.

Part of a busy London road has been reclaimed from cars and lorries and transformed into a parklet to provide a place for people to sit, relax and securely park their bikes, thanks to a joint project by Sustrans, the London Borough of Hackney and Cyclehoop.

Installed on Pitfield Street outside a new café, the small urban park brings seating, cycle parking and a splash of nature to this busy bicycle route.

It will remain there until July 23rd when the street is due to be entirely pedestrianised as part of the construction of the new Cycle Superhighway 1. At that point it will be moved to a new location within Hackney.

The parklet is situated in a former loading bay and takes up a 2.6m by 8m space. It offers three Sheffield bike stands and a decking area with benches and planters of grasses and herbs. Solar-powered lighting is installed in the floor for safety.

The idea borrows from hugely successful experiments in San Francisco, Portland and other international cities in recent years. The semi-permanent installations are designed to change the way we think about public space and create green sanctuaries in urban environments.

The project was funded by £5,000 from the Sustrans Innovations Fund and co-funded by Hackney Council using the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund grant. This covers installation and also monitoring of how the parklet is used in order to evaluate its success.

If the project is well received by the public, similar installations could be made more widely across London and the rest of the UK.

Sustrans project leader Ben Addy said:

“We believe that London’s streets should be safer and more enjoyable for people walking and cycling. We want to make them spaces where people can relax, and where they actually choose to spend time, which benefits the whole community.

“The parklet sits alongside other interventions, such as 20mph speed limits and filtered permeability, helping to change how we all perceive our streets. It will help make streets social spaces.”

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Sustainability, said:

“It is just one small part of our ongoing transformation of Hackney's neighbourhoods into the most liveable and attractive in London, with cleaner and greener streets, filled with healthier and more active residents. Part of this plan is challenging the assumption that our streets are for vehicles only.”

Anthony Lau, Managing Director of Cyclehoop, added:

"The Hackney parklet is inspired by the idea of reclaiming parts of the city for pedestrians and cyclists.”

It is also hoped that the parklet will help local businesses by improving the look and feel of the area. 

Get updates about the Hackney parklet by checking out #HackneyParklet

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