December Street Talks: your topic here

The next Street Talk is on Tuesday 6th December. We’re doing something a bit different for December — including, just this one time, meeting at Look Mum No Hands instead of the Yorkshire Grey.

And, just this one time, we have a different format. Instead of one speaker and one topic, ten or twelve people will each get 7 ½ minutes to tell us something — to explain, to entertain, to argue, or campaign — that fits the “liveable London” theme. Anything London transport and built environment, and their borderlands with politics, culture, philosophy, science, health, environment, economics…

So send a short summary of something you want to talk about, following these instructions.

Street Talk #7: People first – putting the public back into the public realm

I am in the land of civilised streets and truly super cycle highways, but I might be persuaded to get on a boat on Monday in time for Tuesday’s Street Talks, in which Oliver Schulze, director of the Gehl Architects’ design studio, will talk to us about how to make civilised streets:

The public realm is the social heart of any city, but social activities of all kinds continue to be squeezed out by efforts to accommodate rather than reduce traffic growth. When cities put cars before people the social and economic life the city suffers and no one has the option to opt out of the environmental impacts.

Join us and Oliver Schulze from Gehl Architects at October’s Street Talk for a journey from Copenhagen to the bike lanes of LA – via taco trucks, snowball fights in Times Square, surface parking lots, Starbucks and Disneyland – as we consider how to put the public back into the public realm. What needs to be done to ensure walking down the street or pausing to chat in a local square is a pleasure rather than a chore? What lessons can London learn from recent efforts to prioritise pedestrians in cities across the world, including New York and even car centric Los Angeles?

Usual time and place: upstairs at the Yorkshire Grey on Theobalds Road, doors open for food and drink from 6, talk at 7ish.

Street Talk #6: Clean Air London

Don’t forget, y’all: Street Talks returns from the summer break on Tuesday week, the 6th, upstairs at the Yorkshire Grey from 7pm. Do come along?

The topic is air pollution, and the speaker is Simon Birkett. Air pollution causes thousands of premature deaths in London each year, mostly through disgusting lung diseases, and it exacerbates those diseases that are caused by sedentary lifestyles. However, unlike sedentary lifestyles, there isn’t any way for individual Londoners to opt out of the effects of air pollution. As usual, there is more on the Liveable London website.

How to make a great street — and why we’ve built so many awful ones

This evening Andy Cameron, an engineer who advised the last government and has written standards for transport and urban design, will join us in the pub to talk about making streets for people.  That’s upstairs at The Yorkshire Grey on Theobald’s Road at 7pm (bar open from 6 with excellent food available).

If you can’t join us, the slides and audio will be online sometime later.  But in the meantime, you can see a talk Andy gave to CABE — not quite the same audience as a pub, so presumably not quite the same talk, but entertaining all the same.  Most interesting, perhaps, is a little insight into why local authorities have been turning our high-streets into hostile motor roads: they mistook the Highways Agency motorway design manual for an instruction book for city streets.

If you’re not familiar with CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, they were a Department for Culture Media and Sport quango full of architects whose main purpose was to understand the ways that architecture and the built environment impact on our lives, and to apply that understanding to reviewing nationally-significant construction projects and planning applications — iconic new buildings, large developments, important public spaces.  Created in 1999, they are partly to thank for the more positive trends of the last decade.  They did their best to hold back the worst excesses of out-of-town barn retail sprawl, and to establish a fashion for new public spaces and squares and streets and bridges that prioritise people over the movement of vehicles, as in the redevelopment of the old industrial waterside areas of Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, and Gateshead.

CABE was cut in the bonfire of the quangos, and, in the name of economic growth and people power [er, are you sure it can be both? -Ed], Eric Pickles and George Osborne have relaxed government control over development.  But people rarely have the time, money, resources, or expertise to exert much power over development decisions, and even when they do, are easily stepped over by better-resourced councils and corporations.  A new wave of cheap corrugated-sprawl-and-car-park development is on the way.

Street Talks 4: how to build a better street

I’m on the road for a few weeks (don’t worry, I’ve prepared a few posts in advance and instructed my cobloggers), so before I go, here is your reminder of the next from Street Talks a few weeks early: Andrew Cameron will talk about designing streets for living in — how to has been done wrong and how it should be done right.  Andrew is director of urban design at the architecture and transport engineering consultancy WSP, and contributor to modern street design guidelines, like the recent Manual for Streets.  As you can imagine, there will be some amount of nerdy details, and slides depicting things like cycle path design.  But it’s about more than that.  You should find out why council highway engineers have spent five decades building absurd race tracks through our neighbourhoods and city centres.

It’s on Tues 14th June — make a note, set a reminder (or join the mailing list for one) — at the usual time and place, upstairs in The Yorkshire Grey on Theobalds Road / Grays Inn Road.  Bar open from 6 for good beer and good food, talk around 7ish.

If you missed the previous ones, the audio and slides are available here.

Street Talk 3: Moving towards a healthier city

Guys, just another reminder before you cut off all communications and jump on a train to the wilderness for the weekend: time has flown and there’s just a week to go before the next Street Talk.

Harry Rutter, public health physician and director of the National Obesity Observatory, is talking about the health consequences of sedentary lifestyles, and how transport and development policies affect those lifestyle choices.  The unique combination of academic fields in his CV will tell you how much this talk will appeal to AWWTM readers.

It’s at the usual time and place, The Yorkshire Grey, on Wednesday 4th May.  Talk at 7, doors open at 6 for drinks, food and chat.  Full details on the Movement blog.

Street Talk 2: cycling revolutions

This is just another reminder that tomorrow, April 12, Jim Davis from The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club and the nascent Cycling Embassy of Great Britain will join us upstairs at The Yorkshire Grey on the corner of Theobald’s Road and Grays Inn Road for the second in the series of Street Talks.  He’ll be talking about mass cycling and the “revolutions” that are designed to achieve it — those that are working and those that are not.

More importantly, the pub does good food and real ales and ciders.  Bar opens at 6, with a talk around 7.

Now, do I do a Dave Warnock and spend the day cycling the 220km back to London?