Climate charity Possible has created new self-watering green roadblocks that can be used by councils to help prevent a surge in post-lockdown traffic.
The charity has been working with specialist civil engineering firms and horticulture experts to turn standard concrete roadblocks into rainwater reservoirs planted with drought-tolerant species.
The blocks are designed to capture and store rainfall naturally and keep plants supplied with water for up to six weeks.
The blocks can be used to create ‘street furniture’ to block traffic from residential areas near schools and on key shopping streets, the charity has said they hope the blocks will provide councils with a low-cost way to change road layouts to make cycling and walking safer and to reduce air pollution near busy residential areas.
The first six concrete blocks are being deployed on two busy retail streets in Chiswick, West London to create more safe road space for shoppers as part of the Mayor’s Street Space for London programme.
Leo Murray, director of innovation at Possible, said: ‘Many of the changes needed today to keep our cities moving and our streets safe in response to the COVID crisis are the same changes we already needed to tackle the climate crisis, so the hope is that many of these temporary measures could become permanent once the pandemic has passed.
‘But for people to want that, we have to make sure that emergency measures are implemented in the most appealing way possible, and that means more than rolling out a mix-and-match of plastic and concrete barriers.’
Cllr Hanif Khan, cabinet member for Transport at Hounslow Council, added: ‘The blocks are a fantastic example of innovation combining with technology to find a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution that is helping us to drive social change.
‘The fact that we can integrate ‘urban greening’ with our new statutory measures to change road layouts, making walking and cycling safer for residents, while facilitating social distancing is great. I very much look forward to these Concrete Jungle blocks springing to life and becoming an attractive feature of our town centres, while helping businesses to resume trading safely as the recovery begins.’