A really good place to do a bit of people watching recently has been anywhere along Fishergate with a good view of the roadworks.
The frustrated, and occasionally angry, expressions on people’s faces are much the same whether they are travelling by bus, car or on foot.
It’s the narrow pavement areas which have been the most interesting because of the variety of ways the pedestrians socially interact.
Many couples or groups of people walking together will naturally walk in a single file at the narrowest areas, to allow room for a single file to walk from the other direction. However, everybody hasn’t necessarily followed that courteous unwritten rule.
Some people walk through these areas chatting away to their friends, two or three abreast, apparently oblivious that people walking in the other direction have no way of getting past.
Another thing which quickly becomes apparent is we live in a society which is getting older and bigger. Some people try to impatiently barge their way past a slower elderly person, while others slow down and pass when the pavement widens.
There are those who because of their size, actually take up the full width of the narrow pavement. You will also find these narrow pathways blocked by people having a fag, a chat or making a mobile phone call and I suppose someone like me standing round watching all this, doesn’t help much either!
All this goes to show we do need the wider pedestrian areas being provided by the Fishergate Central Gateway Project. I hope the architects are successful in designing ‘the uncluttered shared space’ which will cater for all the different needs of those who will use it.
Cars will have less access and by design they are being discouraged from using this route. Hopefully there will be a recognisable cycle route, which could also be used by the ever-increasing number of motability scooters.
Perhaps lessons have been learned from Manchester which recently won an award for making their city centre Age-Friendly.
The new area needs places suitable to hang around for a chat while allowing others to pass through at either a rushed or slow pace.
I am hoping the disruption caused by the Fishergate Project is going to be worth it and going shopping in Preston will no longer feel like taking part in a game of human dodgems.