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Play street campaigners driving towards 'World Car Free' day with space hoppers

PUBLISHED: 14:00 07 May 2019

Could you go to work on a space hopper on 'World Car Free' day? One keen child shows how it's done. Picture: London Play

Could you go to work on a space hopper on 'World Car Free' day? One keen child shows how it's done. Picture: London Play

London Play

A 'play street pledge' has been started this week for September's 'World Car Free' day hoping to persuade motorists to give up their vehicles and maybe even go to work on space hoppers.

City Hall wants 200 streets turned into temporary  play areas on September 22. Picture: London PlayCity Hall wants 200 streets turned into temporary play areas on September 22. Picture: London Play

Tower Hamlets councillors Denise Jones Rachel Blake jointed and children and London's walking and cycling commissioner in a 'hop past' outside City Hall for the 'play' street campaign launch.

“Play streets are a brilliant way to encourage kids outdoors and be more active,” Cllr Blake said. “We launched our first 'play street' last month and are planning more.”

Two roads were closed to traffic for three hours in Poplar last month so that children could play games, cycle and watch street performances.

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The East End's first 'Play Street' for 60 years was set up around Bygrove Street and part of Ricardo Street by the Sustrans charity, backed by Tower Hamlets Council, with pupils at Lansbury Lawrence Primary enjoying the three-hour traffic ban.

It was a return to the 'play' streets in former Metropolitan boroughs in east London in post war Britain, before they vanished in the 1960s. Tower Hamlets went back to the idea for the first time in December when a permanent 'school street' was set up with bollards and tree planting at Salmon Road, a cul-de-sac outside Sir William Burrough School in Limehouse.

Representatives from 16 London boroughs including Tower Hamlets have now signed a pledge to approve more play streets.

London Play charity which is behind the revival hopes the campaign turns streets into “community space rather than just a parking space for vehicles” to inspire neighbours to apply for regular play street closures. City Hall wants 200 streets turned into temporary play spaces on 'World Car Free' day on Sunday, September 22.

Bygrove Street in Poplar was turned into a three-hour 'play street' in April. Picture: LBTHBygrove Street in Poplar was turned into a three-hour 'play street' in April. Picture: LBTH

London's walking commissioner Will Norman said: “Transforming neighbourhoods with 'play' streets gives neighbours the chance to get to know each other and strengthen their community. It will also help clean up our toxic air.”

Play street events can be organised by households themselves where neighbours apply to the local authority to close their street to through traffic temporarily, but regularly, to let children play while adults watch and get to know each other.

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