Councils told to ‘pause’ shared space schemes

09.49 | 1 August 2018 | | 7 comments

The Government has told local authorities to pause the development of shared space schemes while it reviews and updates its guidance.

Shared space schemes – where features such as kerbs, road surface markings, designated crossing places and traffic signs are removed – have been introduced in a number of town centres in recent years.

The schemes are designed to create a safer road environment – with the theory that drivers will reduce their speed because of uncertainty over who has priority.

However, shared space has received criticism, including from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), who told BBC News they have turned some high streets into ‘no go zones’ for visually impaired people.

In its ‘Inclusive Transport Strategy’, published on 25 July, the Government acknowledged that many people and organisations have ‘significant concerns’ about the schemes.

The report says a pause will allow the DfT ‘to carry out research and produce updated guidance’ – but gives no detail as to how long the ‘pause’ will last.

Nusrat Ghani, transport minister, told the BBC that visually impaired people do not have “the confidence they need to enter communities and city centres where they need to share a space with someone driving a car”.

The RNIB is now calling on the Scottish Government to also review its policy on shared spaces ‘as a matter of urgency’.

The new DfT Inclusive Transport Strategy, backed by hundreds of million pounds, is designed to improve accessibility across all types of travel for those with ‘visible and less visible’ disabilities.



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    Kris, does your research distinguish between places that are pure and authentic “shared space” (i.e. never having been subjected to, or tainted by, or have had it completely reverted, conventional road safety treatment) and the variety of artificial “Shared Space” schemes implemented by conventional road safety departments, ranging from close approximations of true “shared space”, to schemes which are, as in the accompanying picture to this item, nothing more than a traditionally regulated sign & line scheme misleadingly masquerading under the “Shared Space” title?

    Charles, England
    Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

    You can’t make a shared use area by signpost; you need to exclude all but essential motor traffic. Just back from Saalbach Austria where the main street is shared use and works fine. Road blocks keep all through motor traffic out (diverted through a tunnel).

    Paul Luton, Teddington
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    The problems with shared space are not confined to people with disabilities. Our research shows that shared use spaces lead to even further reductions in parents’ willingness to allow children independent travel and play – both essential contributors to pedagogical development. Good news for games console sales though.

    Kris Beuret, London and Leicester
    Agree (6) | Disagree (2)

    No – it also seems to be overloaded with signs (permitted and unauthorised), c/way markings, speed limit signs, warning signs (‘Drive with Care’) all in a conventionally segregated urban highway – all the things which we would be led to believe are supposed to become redundant in a shared space. Can’t see any vulnerable road users either. No doubt better examples exist.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

    Does the picture at the top of this item reflect anyone here’s idea of what a “Shared Surface” would/should look like?

    Nick Hughes, Preston
    Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

    It’s taken them a while to realise that shared space can possibly be more dangerous especially to those less fortunate than ourselves. The disabled are an example that should have been particularly listened to. I would have thought that with consultation that would have taken place before commencement of any such scheme that there would have been warnings or concerns about this matter.

    Agree (9) | Disagree (3)

    If highways had always been shared spaces, no doubt there would be calls now for segregation of motorised vehicles from pedestrians i.e. conventional f/ways and c/ways.

    Most rural roads and lanes plus some urban roads are and always have been ‘shared’ i/.e no footways, however still too many drivers do not respect that and will blindly enter into these areas of potential conflict too fast.

    Reading about some recently introduced shared surfaces in town centres, one complaint is that in the evening and other quiet times, speeds through these areas increase again, in the mistaken belief that no pedestrians will be around.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (6) | Disagree (6)

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