During community consultations conducted in the last week of August 2014, the residents of Pigdon Street were asked a number of questions aimed at understanding the demographics of the area, and more importantly who you are. This investigation was particularly important for Streets Without Cars, as the eventual urban intervention will be designed with the local community in mind.
Also important was the introduction of residents to the urban design agenda of Streets Without Cars:
Imagine if there were no cars, no need for car parking or wide moats of asphalt reserved for car traffic. What could we do with the space and how might we foster new ways of living together as a community?
This was the overall thinking framework presented during the community consultation. It was an interesting experience as a lot of you were surprised or even confused by my interview, as no one had really bothered to ask these type of questions before.
Some of the questions I asked residents during the consultation process were designed to prompt and enable you to start thinking about your street as not just that bit of infrastructure in front of your homes, but also a space that you could extend your front yards into.
I asked you to imagine alternative uses for your street if the traffic were significantly reduced and pedestrians / residents were given priority over this space. I prompted you with these issues for consideration:
- Current key traffic and traffic flow issues you feel need to be addressed.
- Your ideas for the street and median street, and any alternative uses you could image for them.
- When you would use these new facilities and spaces i.e. during what times of the day, week and year.
- Who gets to use the street i.e. would you like to see community oriented spaces, or spaces reserved for private use and local residents only?
- Who you imagine will maintain the new spaces and facilities in your street, and who you feel should pay for it.
Here are some of the ideas and issues raised by your community.
- The majority of you (82%) felt that the current large amount of traffic along Pigdon Street was either not an issue or you had not noticed it before. The remainder expressed your concern for the bottlenecks and noise created by the car traffic during peak hour periods.
- While the amount of traffic did not seem to be an issue, you all thought that more can be done in terms of how the traffic flows through your street. A vast majority (80%) of you expressed your concern over the Garton Street roundabout, which you thought was an accident waiting to happen again, with many of you highlighting previous accidents and daily near misses between cyclists and cars. This was identified as being the result of cyclists not being given the right of way by cars entering the intersection too fast.
- A number of you felt that more can be done in terms of bicycle lane separation and connectivity at intersections, as the currently extra wide bike paths along Pigdon Street still remain dangerous as they discontinue at the roundabouts of Garton and Arnold Streets, creating havoc between cars and cyclists.
- Nearly three quarters (73%) of you felt that cars were cutting the roundabout and going too fast over the “mellow” speed bumps which are currently not an effective speed control strategy.
The traffic issues aside, a lot of you had an exciting range of ideas for a new look Pigdon Street. The following images show all the ideas highlighted by the community and the size of the circles indicate the popularity (number of times the idea was suggested) amongst the residents interviewed.
Based on your ideas and input here are some of the conclusions I have made and the beginnings of your brief for Pigdon Street.
- A vast majority of you would like to see more space provided where you can meet with friends to socialise and have picnics, gatherings and the ability to sit down. Most households have limited private open space where such activities can take place. Eating (80% ), socialising (75%) and extensions of your living spaces at home (90%) are amongst the most popular and widely suggested ideas for Pigdon Street.
- The most widely suggested idea for Pigdon Street is the provision of temporary structures and spaces (90%) where a variety of short term “pop-up” activities such as local community markets, night markets, street food and coffee, community events and small “rent a plot” vegetable gardens can take place.
- Approximately 50% of you would like to see a community garden within the area of Pigdon Street, with a suggestion by one resident for those spaces to have a “rent a plot” arrangement, which will contribute to any maintenance costs and offer the flexibility to residents who want to plant and farm seasonally. Other residents would like to see more landscaping and winter gardens, with the additional space required provided by a reduced amount of asphalt.
- Spaces for recreation, outdoor activities and ball games were also popular (40%), with a number of you (50%) suggesting more community oriented meeting spaces, such as communal seating and tables for people to gather, a small “book-share” community library and spaces for community events.
- All of you saw the need for an improvement in the way traffic enters and moves through the street, with an overwhelming 80% of residents wanting the cars to be slowed down, and the intersection of Pigdon and Garton Streets to be addressed for the safety of cyclists. You were also concerned that the current methods of slowing down cars are not effective and would like to see something be done about it.
- Some of you (27%) felt that the number of non-resident permit car parking spots can be reduced as they are currently exploited by visitors to Princes Park who do not want to pay for parking tickets along Bowen Crescent.
- The majority of the community (64%) accepted the idea of looking after and maintaining your new spaces if you felt you had somewhat of an ownership of them. The remaining residents expect the council to look after any improvements to the street, with a small number feeling that they would simply not have the time to do so.
- A very small number of residents would like to see any new spaces or activities provided along Pigdon Street remain private, while the vast majority of residents supported the idea that these spaces be either for the broader community (36%) or for both the local and broader communities(65%).
- The question of funding was one that received a variety of responses, with nearly half of the residents (45%) wanting the City of Yarra to provide the capital investment. These residents felt they already pay high council rates and land tax. Some residents suggested the improvements be absorbed through paying higher taxes, but the second most widely accepted funding approach (36%) was a contribution on behalf of the residents through either crowdfunding or fundraising along with council.
- Your thoughts on current traffic conditions, this and subsequent images copyright the author.
- Your ideas for a new look Pigdon Street.
- When you would use the new spaces.
- Who gets to use it.
- Your ideas around funding and maintenance of the proposed upgrades.