On Friday 1st July I 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, no safe space, buses and blind people, toddlers and trucks sharing the 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 worryingly, 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.
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)
Chaos, Confusion and Catastrophe, Politics Home
Shared space schemes labelled dangerous in Lords report, Architects Journal
New Report calls for a moratorium on shared space crossings, Transport for All
“Dangerous and Costly” shared spaces should be scrapped, Lord Holmes claims, Gloucester Citizen
Ex-Paralympian in call to end shared space crossings, Swindon Advertiser
Time to stop sharing?, Lord of the Blogs
Blurred Lines #Shared Spaces, Unity Law Report
End of the road for white lines on highway, The Times
Please tweet using #stopsharedspace,
Chris was delighted to give a TED talk at a TEDx Event organised along the theme of Momentum; Moving Forward, Gaining Speed and Building Traction. Chris’s talk was titled ‘Seeing isn’t Believing’ as he explained how a working class kid from the Midlands got from an underperforming comprehensive school to Cambridge University, from a rundown 25 yard swimming pool to the gold medal podium at 4 Paralympic Games, from a terraced house to the House of Lords. For Chris this path was not guided by the light afforded by sight, that sight having departed, without notice, overnight. Vision instead of sight and a clear path firmly built on the bedrock of self belief.
Chris was honoured to be installed as Deputy Chancellor of BPP University. He is a former law student of the university and was at London’s prestigious Guildhall venue on 13th May 2016 to receive the honour during the university’s graduation ceremony. Speaking on the power of higher education, Chris said he was “honoured” to be the university’s new figurehead and “delighted to play my small part in the on-going success at BPP as the University goes from strength to strength, producing excellent graduates across the professions who will go on to make such a positive contribution to our country.” Chris gained a post graduate diploma in law (PGDL) whilst at BPP University’s Law School and in 2002 he completed the Legal Practice Course.
Chris was at one point a lawyer specialising in pensions and was delighted to write a foreword for Michael Johnson’s excellent report for the Centre for Policy Studies, ‘Auto-protection at 55’, which considers the future of pensions and in particular the need for ‘auto-protection’ to address the dangers of ‘auto-enrolment’. Chris’s time as a pensions lawyer informs his interest in this major policy area and he was happy to endorse the report’s central theme of how to make annuity liberalisation safe. The report makes many sensible recommendations including a not for profit national annuities auction house to automate the process of shopping around. Chris feels there is clearly value in a default system for pension protection while challenging the market to produce a still better service for clients and this report is an excellent start in that direction.
Update on campaign to get more women and ethnic minorities to play rugby (and cricket and football…..)
Chris knows, from his own personal experience, all about the opportunity that sport can provide for people and its unique power to transform lives and inspire others. The fact is that some groups, particularly women and girls, Asians, Muslims and disabled people, have disproportionately low rates of participation in sport – as players, spectators, volunteers, officials and employees. The Equality and Human Rights Commission receives money from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to promote inclusion in sport. This funding is allocated to grassroots initiatives administered through organisations like Premiership Rugby . Another partnership with the England & Wales Cricket Board is expected to be announced soon. The funds are also being used to improve access to stadia for disabled people. Discussions have been held with the Premier League and given the windfall the Premier League has just enjoyed, Chris believes “it would be scandalous if clubs don’t do more to improve access for disabled fans.”
Click here for Chris’s blog in full
Listen here to Chris discussing disabled access to football grounds on Radio 5 live
Click here to read a special report on disabled access to Premier League clubs in the Guardian
Chris is delighted to announce a new role as spokesperson for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women. The charity was founded on 29 January 1951, to provide support and services to blinded World War I veterans. Exactly 100 years on from its foundation, a specially commissioned survey into public attitudes has found a “major positive shift” in the public’s perception of blindness. 65% of the general public have indicated that if they were to lose their sight, it would not mean that their “lives were as good as over”. Chris is pleased with the survey’s findings and observes that “the amazing stories of blind veterans supported by the charity show that its support can make a life-changing difference and can spur people on to do inspirational things, contrary to any negative views about blindness limiting a person’s ability.” Watch Chris’s birthday message to Blind Veterans UK.