Shared space and consideration

29 Feb 2008 by Karl Hallam

The idea of shared space on our streets is getting more and more coverage. When street furniture is reduced behaviour is much more reliant on eye contact, nods and little waves between vehicle drivers and pedestrians. Many argue that this reduces accidents, but does it make us safer in other ways too?

Simon Jenkins cites Professor John Adams of UCL who and says he thinks that 'traffic lights should be banned, along with stop signs, zebra crossings, kerbstones and railings. The reason is not that he is a libertarian nutcase but that they kill people'. Cadence are fans of Ben Hamilton-Baillie's work in this area - what he calls 'innovative solutions for reconciling traffic movement with quality public spaces'.

Cadence are involved in work which is looking at whether when people walk and cycle and share space, that they feel more connected with both the other users of the space and the place itself. In other words, could the shared space concept make people less fearful and more trusting of other people?

A group of 3 hooded figures on a park bench at dusk can look very different depending how you travel past them. From a car it could be anti-social behaviour, by foot it could be your neighbour's son discussing his maths homework. There might be some significant wider societal benefits to shared space beyond the suggested road accident reductions that have been the focus of the debate to date.

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