Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building


Self-watering roadblocks and plastic kerbs: London’s post-lockdown streets

2 July 2020

Self-watering ‘green’ roadblocks to arrest a surge in post-lockdown traffic, and recycled plastic kerbs for new pop-up cycle lanes will both be employed in London as the capital re-emerges from lockdown.

Climate action charity Possible has created the self-watering concrete roadblock, with the first wave of six blocks installed in Chiswick by the London Borough of Hounslow. 

The standard concrete roadblocks were adapted to embed rainwater reservoirs beneath recesses planted with a selection of drought-tolerant species. They are designed using ‘PermaVoid’ rainwater reservoirs developed by Polypipe to capture and store rainwater naturally and can keep plants supplied with water for up to six weeks between rainfall. 

Leo Murray, director of innovation at Possible, said: “Wooden planters are one of the best ways to manage traffic, but although they are very low cost to install, they can come with a hefty and potentially off-putting maintenance bill for cash-strapped councils. They can also be vulnerable to drivers of larger vehicles frustrated at having their passage barred. Our Concrete Jungle blocks combine the best of both approaches – cheap to make and maintain, yet still bursting with life – and impossible to push aside, even with an SUV.”

Meanwhile, Transport for London has been supplied with ‘bolt-down’ kerbs made entirely from recycled plastic by manufacturer Durakerb, for a series of new pop-up cycle lanes in the city.

Earlier this year, transport secretary Grant Shapps pledged to invest £250m in new pop-up cycle lanes, wider pavements, safer junctions and bus-only corridors in England.

Durakerb’s bolt-on kerb design can be easily installed and removed, meaning that lanes can be swiftly introduced and altered as measures to attack the pandemic change. The kerbs are now at a depot in Beckton, ready to be deployed by London councils as required.

Phil Sutton, managing director at Econpro, the parent company of Durakerb said: “We’re delighted to be supporting London’s efforts to become a greener city. Dangerous emissions at some of the capital’s busiest roads fell by almost 50% during lockdown according to the Mayor of London, and it is fantastic that we are able to contribute to cleaner air and safer streets.

“As other parts of the country modify their roads to encourage more pedestrians and cyclists, we hope that councils consider using our ‘bolt on’ kerb units to further improve their environmental credentials and ensure social distancing remains possible.”