Today I have published detailed research into so called “shared space”. This is the architectural conceit, the planning folly which proposes that the removal of kerbs, road markings, controlled crossings such as zebras and pelicans and so on leads to a better experience for all users of our streets. To be clear this means no road or pavement, just space, buses and blind people, toddlers and trucks sharing this same space. Unsurprisingly, the research findings do not support a sunny view of shared space.
Sixty-three per cent of respondents reported a negative experience of shared space. Even more worrying than that, thirty-five per cent said they actively avoided shared space, 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. The research also indicated a significant under reporting of accidents in these shared spaces.
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 Department for Transport guidance to enable local authorities to fully understand their obligations, not least in relation to the Equality Act.
Patrick McGloughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, when questioned by the Transport Select Committee on exactly this just before the end of the last parliament acknowledged that Government guidance on shared space must be improved stating, “We need to review and update the guidance that we are giving” (Q.30) I look forward to hearing more from Patrick McGloughlin on how that commitment is progressing
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.
In the words of survey respondents, shared space is:
“Lethally dangerous” (Pedestrian)
“Absolute nightmare that I avoid if I can.” (Driver)
“Shared space is a false promise with poor delivery” (Cyclist)
Please tweet using #stopsharedspace