Shared spaces cause ‘confusion, chaos and catastrophe’
A new report describes the concept of ‘shared space’ as a “planning folly” and calls for “an immediate moratorium on all shared space schemes until thorough impact assessments can be conducted”.
The report, Accidents by Design, has been prepared by Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE. It is based on an online survey conducted during March-April 2015 which attracted 852 responses and 614 completed questionnaires.
The report says 63% of respondents reported a negative experience of shared space, and 35% said they actively avoided shared space.
Lord Holmes said: “That’s over a third of people planned out of their local community, their local shops, their local support services. This type of totalitarian planning would make even an old style Soviet feel some shame.”
Comments from respondents include “lethally dangerous” (from a pedestrian), an “absolute nightmare that I avoid if I can” (from a driver), and “shared space is a false promise with poor delivery” (from a cyclist).
The report also says the research also “indicated a significant under reporting of accidents in these shared spaces”.
Lord Holmes continued: “The findings are stark, the solution clear, an immediate moratorium on all shared space schemes until thorough impact assessments can be conducted.
“This must be combined with a central record of accident data including ‘courtesy crossings’ which must be defined and monitored.
“There is also a need for updated DfT guidance to enable local authorities to fully understand their obligations, not least in relation to the Equality Act.
“Has so called ‘shared space’ achieved an inclusive experience for all? No, it most certainly has not. Has it opened up our high streets, increased safety and usability? Again, no it has not.
“Shared space is not a safe place nor a pleasant place, it has turned high streets into traffic free for alls, it has caused confusion, chaos and catastrophe."
Lord Holmes of Richmond
Chris Holmes is Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer with a tally of 9 golds, 5 silvers and 1 bronze. He was also LOCOG’s Director of Paralympic Integration, responsible for the organisation of the 2012 Paralympic Games. A lifelong campaigner for equality and inclusion, he was appointed to the House of Lords in 2013 as the Lord Holmes of Richmond. Lord Holmes also serves as non-executive director for the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Improving the equality and human rights legislative framework in the UK remains an important priority.