Headlines: April 2nd, 2009

Councils are being urged to create ‘naked streets’ with fewer signs, traffic lights and what campaigners call clutter. The call has come from the charity Living Streets, a national organisation representing pedestrians with the aim of having safe, attractive and enjoyable streets where people will want to walk.

It said that as traffic had increased so had the number of traffic lights, guard rails and road signs all measures it believes encourage drivers to stop thinking for themselves, and to switch off from the world around them. The charity believes that removing barriers and using space differently could make streets safer for everyone.

It described the concept of ‘naked streets’ as looking afresh at how public space was shared and removing clutter and other measures introduced to control people’s behaviour. Shared space schemes have already been implemented in Ashford in Kent, Kensington and Chelsea and Brighton.

Living Streets said that the numbers of pedestrians killed or seriously injured was still unacceptable but the trial schemes here and abroad had shown the removal of street clutter could help reduce them. Tony Armstrong, the charity’s chief executive said: “We need a new approach to using and sharing our space that makes walking the attractive choice and transforms the quality of our streets.”

A naked streets approach, he said, could mean doing things which were not obvious but the schemes had great potential to revolutionise public space for pedestrians. “Using a naked streets approach should always involve lots of local consultation to make sure that schemes suit the local area, and that vulnerable pedestrians can get around safely,” he said.