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Division Street Redesigned: A future without traffic

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Division Street closed to traffic in 2009 for the Sheffield Half Marathon. Photo by Chris Downer on Wikimedia Commons.

Interaction designer Sam Wakeling has released a proposed redesign of Division Street to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.

"Currently people are excluded from the majority of the space, it doesn't feel comfortable," Wakeling told Now Then. "We're so used to the status quo of our streets being filled with cars, with people left as the last resort."

"I took a snapshot of the street, did a bit of a sketch over it, and it catches people's imagination when they see how it could be different."

His proposed design has received over 3,700 likes on Twitter, as well as positive reactions from local businesses. The Great Gatsby bar retweeted his design with the words "YES. YES. YES. PLEASE."

It's good for people with limited mobility, it's good for children, it's good for old people

Despite being one of the most visited shopping streets in the city, pedestrians have to contend with narrow pavements and on-street parking.

Wakeling's proposal sees the roadway replaced by a narrower cycle lane, with expanded pavements on each side. The redesign would leave enough space to allow new street trees to be planted.

"It's good for people with limited mobility, it's good for children, it's good for old people," said Wakeling. "You could just go on and on."

He also told us that pedestrianising Division Street wouldn't necessarily need expensive building work, at least in the short term.

A politician would do themselves a favour supporting this sort of thing

"If the political determination was there, you could put in temporary traffic restrictions and reclaim the space almost instantly for people," he said. "There's legal processes for all of that, the council's got all those powers."

The owners of Moonko tweeted to say that they would "love to see this" on Division Street. "I have seen so many accidents, road rage, cars going up onto the pavements. It would be wonderful if it ever happens," they said.

Wakeling believes that the reaction to his design on Twitter shows that "there really is public support for it."

"A politician would do themselves a favour supporting this sort of thing," he said.

Wakeling believes that the Council's recent decision to declare a climate emergency presents an opportunity to experiment with radical ideas for improving the city.

"This can really be a reason to take some risks and make life better for people in our city, not about awkward sacrifices," he said.

"Removing cars and traffic from some of our public streets and giving them back to people to walk, cycle and enjoy would be a brilliant, bold and popular approach to a climate emergency."

Sam Gregory

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