Prior to understanding shared space streets, let’s take a look at what planners aim at achieving, by the implementation of this type of design. It is hoped that by making the distinction between pedestrian path and carriageway blurry, drivers are prompted to be more cautious. This caution arises from unfamiliarity and the sense of discomfort (to the driver) that is introduced by design, with pedestrians and bicyclists being able to more freely use the street. The primary aim of shared space is to improve road safety and more equitable streets.
A key characteristic of such a design approach is the elimination of all signals and signage, which in turn, forces different road users to negotiate right of way. Additionally, and interestingly, this approach does away with traditional “Jaywalking” as there are no set rules as to where pedestrians may cross or not. Motorists are provided with general guides that indicate the presence of a lane, however, most shared spaces utilise a form and colour of pavement which binds the whole street together.
Shared space streets thrive on introducing a certain level of uncertainty that promotes caution. On paper, pedestrians can now follow their natural “desire lines” and an element of direct human interaction can be created between different modes of mobility. This approach, however, has been widely criticised for bot having met its goals in practice and, in the pursuit of equity, neglects the needs of differently abled individuals and their reliance on traditional navigation aids.
Would you like such a system on your local streets? Let us know below! 👇
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