by Sue Quinn
The Guardian, Thursday 5th August 1999, page 10.
Junior drivers with a dubious knowledge of road rules caused traffic chaos in a west London street yesterday, but the transport minister, Lord Whitty, was unperturbed by the tailback of scooters, tricycles and assorted pedal toys.
He had come to Broughton Road in West Ealing to take part in an open-air tea party&emdash; complete with armchairs, tables, and a television dragged out into the road&emdash;to mark the launch of a scheme that, it is hoped, will see residents reclaim at least some of the streets outside their homes from the motor car.
Ealing is one of nine areas that will pilot the "home zone" project, which puts the rights of residents and their children before cars by means of a series of traffic, parking, and design changes.
Based on a scheme in the Netherlands, where there are 6,000 home zones, Ealing hopes to limit vehicle speeds to 10 mph, install traffic-calming measures, pedestrianise at least one street, and level the footpath and road in others, to make the area safer and more accessible for residents and their children.
Other such streets in Lambeth in south London, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Sittingbourne in Kent, Peterborough, Monmouthshire, and Plymouth have been included in the project, which will be monitored by the government and councils for three years before the scheme is introduced more widely.
Charmian Boyd, spokeswoman for the Five Roads Forum, which mustered support for the Ealing project, said that residents had been "enclosed" within their houses for too long.
"We would like to reclaim the streets for people, because the bias is totally toward cars." she said.
"We aren't anti-car&emdash;many of us have them&emdash;but we are afraid to let our kids out, and it's become an area where we've become completely threatened by cars.
"Now, when cars come into this area, they should respect the fact that this is where families and people live."
Schneill Styles-George, nine, said that she was looking forward to the changes outside her home in Broughton Road which will begin early next year at a cost of at least £100,000.
"I will be able to use my roller skates more easily and have more space to skate," she said.
"Now, I can't go near the edge of the footpath because cars go zooming past."
(Photograph by Graham Turner: Kim Thompsett and Alicia, five, taking part in a tea party in West Ealing, where residents' rights will be put before those of cars).
5/8/99 Last Updated 5/8/99