Mr Lenthall on pedestrians carving their own walkways in Stevenage

“we found that once you collected about eight people together, they felt they were strong enough to force their way across the road”- Mr Lenthall discusses how pedestrians create their own walkways- even at the expense of motorists

Stevenage Museum


To try and summarise what we learnt from these films I think I can do it two ways.  I‘ll give you first of all an example. There was a car park situated on the corner of the town centre rectangle, and it served the town centre, but it also happened to be on the main route, one of the main routes from the industrial area to the town centre.  And since the industrial area has quite a large female working population, a lot of these are housewives, and they also realised the proximity of the town centre meant that they could walk from the industrial area at lunchtime, shop in the town centre, and walk back again with the family shopping. And so these ladies, along with men, would come into the town centre each lunchtime.  And we were surprised at the way they behaved.  They arrived from the industrial area at the corner of the car park, and although we had put a nice [walkway] so to speak, on the far corner of the car park to aid them on their journey, to make it a little bit shorter for them, somehow or other they managed to remove quite a piece of the fencing around the car park.  We never discovered where it went.  And they marched straight across the car park.  And when we filmed this, we discovered to our fascination that on their route across the car park, there was a lighting column on a raised dais; they walked straight across the dais.  There was a flowerbed with two trees in it; they walked straight between the two trees, straight across the flowerbed.  And when they came to leave the car park, they walked straight out through the main entrance to the car park, the vehicular entrance to the car park.  We also discovered, although there was all sorts of movement taking place within the car park from the vehicles, that any vehicle that got behind this stream of people walking across the car park was totally ignored.  So far as they were concerned, any cars behind them just didn’t exist, and cars had to wait until the pedestrians cleared the way.  Having come to the entrance to the car park, they then had to go along a short length of highway to get into the town square, and they crossed the road – we found that once you collected about eight people together, they felt they were strong enough to force their way across the road – and they crossed the road diagonally aiming for the town centre.  And any car that happened to be moving around at that time just had to give way to them.

Lenthall 1986

This page was added on 21/10/2015.

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