Stuart Reid, Director of Sustainable Transport and Communities, MVA Consultancy: Creating successful shared space streets
The difference between a street and a road is that a street must fulfil a range of functions above and beyond merely acting as a corridor for traffic. Streets are places and social spaces.
The concept of shared space seeks to improve the way a street functions as a place by reducing segregation between pedestrians and vehicles and minimising traffic related signs, signals and street furniture. It is an approach that challenges the assumption that separating pedestrians and vehicles always improves safety, instead aiming to create an environment that encourages drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to behave in a more co-operative manner.
Pioneered by the Dutch it is increasingly popular in the UK with schemes such as Exhibition Road raising the profile of shared space in recent years. It is however a design approach and philosophy that is not free from controversy. Questions have been raised about the impact of removing crossings and kerbs on blind and partially sighted people, about driver behaviour and whether this approach to street design is seen as a panacea that allows local authorities to claim they are putting the needs of pedestrians first without necessarily taking significant steps to reduce traffic volumes and impacts.
For the first Street Talks of 2012 we will be joined by Stuart Reid, Director of Sustainable Transport and Communities at MVA Consultancy to consider what makes a successful shared space street. Are the champions of shared space overselling the benefits or are the naysayers overstating the risks? Isn’t it all just a question of context? If so, where and when is shared space appropriate?
Upstairs at The Yorkshire Grey, 2 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8PN at 7pm (bar open 6pm) on Tuesday 10th January.
Stuart Reid is a prominent figure in the field of sustainable transport, with a particular interest in walking and cycling. He has contributed to the development of national policy and key guidance for planning, process and design and has worked on behalf of central and local Government clients including the Department for Transport, Department for Communities and Local Government, Highways Agency, Countryside Agency and Transport for London as well as numerous local authorities.