Post by Dr. Paulo Rui Anciaes
We have now chosen our third case study area: Southend-on-Sea. The town is well-known for being located at the mouth of the Thames estuary, and for being the nearest seaside resort from London. Southend is also one the largest urban areas in the East of England, with 174,300 residents.
We are especially interested in Queensway, a road connecting Southend Central Station with the waterfront. The road was built in the 1970s, carving through an existing residential area. Some of this area had been redeveloped in the 1960s, but most of the housing was constructed before the 1920s. The map below shows the dramatic changes this area experienced during the 1970s.
Queensway is a dual carriageway. The amount of traffic is not very high (comparing with most roads in London). However, the road infrastructure itself is a barrier to the movement of pedestrians, because there are guard railings preventing pedestrians from crossing the road along most of the length of the road.
Some of us went to Southend for a first field trip some weeks ago. We would like to thank Sue Goss and Neil Hoskins from Southend Borough Council for showing us around.
The photo below shows the main roundabout in this area. Roads and car traffic are clearly the dominant element of the landscape, although this place is just 5-10 minutes walking from major destinations, such as the two Southend train stations, the town centre, a large shopping centre, and educational institutions such as South Essex College, and the Southend campus of the University of Essex.
Our visit was on a particularly cold day in January. Unfortunately, our camera decided to freeze and stopped working, so we could not get any more photographs. However, the following images from Google Street View are a good illustration of the options pedestrians have for crossing Queensway. The footbridge is not very convenient for people with mobility restrictions. In the big roundabout, the only option for crossing is a pedestrian subway. Many pedestrians seem to avoid using this subway and cross on the surface, despite the danger. In the section of the road between this and another roundabout, 500m to the South, there is another pedestrian subway and a (very) staggered pelican crossing.
We are now starting to look at this case study in more detail. Mapping For Change will start exploring the area soon and engage with local residents. The rest of the Street Mobility team will do the data collection later this year, after we test our tools in the two London case studies (Woodberry Down and Finchley Road).