Our sociable street

Photo:Making music in Tidy Street

Making music in Tidy Street

Photo:Scooting freely in the road

Scooting freely in the road

Photo:Blowing bubbles

Blowing bubbles

Tidy Street event, 3rd November 2013

By Sara Bragg, North Laine resident

Tidy Street held its first ‘Sociable Streets’ event on Sunday 3rd November. This is our preferred term for street closure orders more commonly known as Play Streets: a regular (eg monthly or fortnightly) road closure that encourages streets to become convivial places rather than traffic routes.

A remarkable transformation occurred

The council had agreed a closure order for up to three hours on the first Sunday of each month, initially for only four months. Given that this period falls during autumn and winter we weren’t optimistic, but remarkably, the weather was dry and even sunny. Within an hour, a remarkable transformation had occurred in the street: kids of all ages were playing together, neighbours talking to each other, being introduced to those they hadn’t met before, putting names to faces, or finding out more about those they already knew; there were scooters, bicycles, roller skates, chalk drawing in the middle of the road, a bubble machine, a guitar player, food brought out to share. 

Car drivers found other access routes

Most car drivers were kind enough to find other access routes, although we were able to allow them through early on when there were fewer people around. Later on, it was too obvious that an enjoyable event was taking place for anyone to want to drive through it. We are grateful for everyone’s support for and/or forbearance of this initiative, which we hope will continue and become a permanent feature of community life for North Laine residents.

Happy cities article

The day before, the Guardian newspaper carried an article about ‘happy cities’: cities designed around people’s needs for socialising, playing, connecting to each other, rather than around the car. Its author claimed that the more connected we are, the less likely we are to experience heart attacks, strokes, cancer and depression; the better we sleep, the longer we live and the happier we are. Living in walkable, mixed neighbourhoods contributes significantly to human connectedness.  We hope that Play/Sociable Streets initiatives will do so too.  

Advice on how to set up Play Streets in your own road

If you have any comments or would like advice on how to set up a Play Streets in your own road, get in touch with BHCC Highway Events Team (293366 / HighwayEvents@brighton-hove.gov.uk).  We also welcome others to participate in forthcoming Sociable Streets on the first Sunday of each month until February.  We only remind you to be considerate to all residents including those seeking a quiet Sunday indoors, and that children remain the responsibility of their parents at all times. We have also banned ball games (other than with balls made of lightweight foam, sponge etc), to avoid damage to property.


[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 225, November/December 2013]

This page was added on 17/12/2013.

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