Shared space report highlights lack of eye contact

01.09 | 25 October 2011 | | 2 comments

Pedestrians and drivers rarely use eye contact to negotiate priority in shared space environments, according to new guidance published by the DfT (TransportXtra).

The guidance is the culmination of a two-year research project led by MVA Consultancy into shared spaces (areas in which pedestrians and vehicles interact, typically without the aid of features such as kerbs and formal crossing points).

The report says: “It has often been suggested that, when crossing a shared space, it is essential for pedestrians to make eye contact with drivers. However, during research into user interaction in shared space, no instances of negotiation by eye contact were observed.”

Shared space schemes have become increasingly popular with councils wanting to regenerate local high streets. It is up to councils to decide whether or not to use shared space on their roads, but the DfT’s guidance is designed to help those who do want to use it to implement well-designed schemes.

Norman Baker, under secretary of state for transport, said: “We want councils to design high-quality public spaces which enhance the local environment and improve the lives of local people. In some cases, they will decide that shared space is the best solution.

“This new guidance will help councils who want to use shared space to improve their streetscape while making sure they take into account the needs of the whole community.”

Click here to read the full TransportXtra news report.

Click here to find Shared Space Local Transport Note 1/11 on the DfT website.


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    Totally agree. So dangerous, as it merely causes utter confusion, on these roads, and particularly junctions. I think to say these ‘shared spaces’ actually enhance the area, is definitely a vast exaggeration. There are areas developed near the town were I live. Apart from the fact there is no definition between the pavement and road, except a slightly different shade of grey material used, no traffic lights replaced, where there was once was, and the pelicans highlighting the zebra also are missing. I am waiting to see what chaos arises when we experience harsh weather conditions, especially fog – when very little will be visible.

    Jane L Kent
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    You know it makes me wonder about these people who design our road systems. How can they justify their salaries and hundreds of thousands of pounds changing things that do not work?

    They may have had wunerfs [is it] in the Netherlands for many generations, perhaps ever since the horse and cart or even whenever the wheel was invented, but to introduce this system here in GB is tantamount to legal suicide. I wonder, was it someone on holiday over there who brought it back with them? I dont know.

    When a pedestrian is crossing one of these spaces he or she glances around and sees what’s coming and then put their head down and hopes for the best believeing that its their space and any vehicles should give them precedence.

    If one is to have such spaces then we need at least 5 years of education. We need it putting in the Highway Code. As yet there is nothing. No info, no nothing, it just appears and that’s it.

    Then we need to inform drivers that, as abroad, if they have an accident they are considered 100% blameworthy and not the pedestrian.

    So let’s have less please and get back to some order of sanity.

    I do like the last paragraph. It makes out that the council wants to improve things whilst still taking into account the needs of the whole community.

    More of these and there will be less persons paying tax or a lot of pensioners not drawing state pension.

    Now isn’t that a good idea?

    Bob Craven, Lancs
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