Turning parking spaces into people spaces

The London launch of Sustrans' street kit

At the London launch of the street kit - a new way to change our streets

Passer-by captures the street kit launch

The changes brightened up the street and attracted attention

Sustrans' staff member assembles the street kit

The light, modular street kit is filled with water to make it stable

Outside of Sustrans' London office before the street kit launch

Before. Parking spaces by our office in Farringdon hours before the street kit launch

18 September 2015

At a launch event in central London we transformed parking spaces into people spaces as we showcased a brand new way of trialling changes in layout to our busy streets. 

Inspired by the interlocking bicycle chain, our innovative street kit is a unique and flexible temporary seating structure, which has been designed to help communities to make their streets more vibrant, fun, adaptable and safer.

A low cost and portable solution to testing street design

The street kit can be situated in a parking bay or on the carriageway, reclaiming space from motor vehicles. Due to its low cost and portable design it is hoped that the kit will be used to test the positioning of new public spaces, wider kerbs at junctions to slow traffic, or to try and reduce through traffic on residential roads to make the environment more inviting to walkers and people on bikes.

Matt Winfield, Deputy Director Sustrans London said:

“Streets make up 80% of the accessible open space in our towns and cities and offer huge potential as a community resource, as a place to meet our neighbours, and to socialise and play.”

“Sustrans street kit borrows from a number of successful experiments in San Francisco and Portland in the United States that helped to change the way people thought about roads and public space through semi-permanent installations to reclaim space from motor traffic.”

“I hope that from the confidence gained through testing street redesigns with our street kit, communities and local authorities will be able to make permanent changes to our towns and cities to create better places for people.”

Peter Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture commented:

“I’m a great fan of the idea of using temporary installations to try out whether we can change the way we use streets. The great thing about the Sustrans street kit is that it's adaptable - if people like the new setup they can keep it, if they don’t like it they can change it.”

“There are literally hundreds of streets across London that could be improved by having somewhere to sit with improved landscaping and calmed traffic. There are a lot of changes currently taking place on streets around London, it fits in well with the sorts of changes happening in the ‘Mini Holland’ projects in Walthamstow and Kingston.”

The street kit is constructed using recyclable plastic (polyethylene) and each link unit is hollow and water-fillable, which means it can be both lightweight to aid transportation and assembly but is very stable when filled. When inter-locked with other units it forms a robust structure for a busy urban setting.

Our street kit will be available as part of our wider community street design programme. 

Read more news stories about our work in London.