Monday, 22 February 2010

Plymouth's West End Makeover

I've always viewed life as a continuous stream of gambles, so I never saw gambling of any kind as an enemy. What a mistake. It's horrifying how much one man can loose when a thoroughbred has a revelatory moment and discards her rider before the first jump! Nowadays, if I can scrape enough kazoo-busking cash together, I only gamble on lotteries - it's safer that way.

If I ever won a lottery I'd spend a generous portion of the winnings on developing the eyesore areas in Plymouth. It'll be no surprise for you to learn that I have yet to win big, so you could imagine the joy I felt when I heard, back in 2007, that BID (Business Improvement District) was embarking on a multi-million 20 year plan to redevelop the city.

But whether all that money is being spent wisely is questionable.

Last December the west-end of the city centre had a £3.2 million revamp. It took 8 months to complete. The aim was to make the area more attractive and accessible to shoppers because Drake's Circus Shopping Mall's magnetic pull on consumers had proved too strong.

Now part of an area which had been pedestrian for 20 years has became a one-way road with car park spaces, the pavement has been badly repaved and a crucial zebra crossing has been erased! Madness! Inevitably, there has been a slew of falls and near misses, thanks to the unevenly raised cobblestones and confusing open spaces which fail to clearly mark out the boundary between pedestrian space and car space - as if they want us to co-exist harmoniously!

But why was the pavement cobbled? Why wasn't tarmac used? One cobblestone fall victim was Babette Doolin (86!). She tripped and fell flat on her face leaving an "abrasion to the head." Is this the price of a pavement going retro: pedestrian pensioners are getting hurt.

This issue got on my tramping moobs, not just because our elders were tumbling but because falling in public is one of the ultimate faux pas. Personally, I find the sober falls the most cringe-worthy because, you either hit the deck like a tonne of lead, the shock of which can leave you speechless for a minute or two, unable to communicate with the public that's literally looking down on you; or, rather than your body submitting to the forces of gravity, you're actually arsed to try and rescue yourself, which means you have to endure a humiliatingly prolonged, bent-legged stumble before finally skidding onto the concrete, and if there's somebody in front of you, well, try not to grab them or else next time you need to be CRB'd you might find you have an uncharacteristic, irremovable blot on your record!

But, just thinking about it, maybe that was the intention all along: get people to trip up and they'll conveniently stumble into the nearest empty independent trader’s shop. In which case, the developers are mischievously ingenious.

But I doubt that.

Get it right next time people.

No comments:

Post a Comment