The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) has today published a major report looking at the contribution that public realm design can make to improving road safety and other well-being objectives. The report, written by Eleanor Besley, is entitled “Kerb Your Enthusiasm” and was part-funded by the Institution for Civil Engineers Research and Development Fund and the RAC Foundation.
The report began as an investigation of the urban phenomenon known as “shared space”. This approach has been widely interpreted but is often associated with roads such as Kensington High Street in London and with moves to remove guard railing and to create fewer barriers between pedestrians and motorised traffic. The Dutch highway engineer, Hans Monderman, is often cited as the first proponent of shared space.
The report concludes that shared space is the most recent attempt to resolve the eternal conflict between mobility and civility, between the desire for free and unfettered movement and for quality environments in which people can work, live and enjoy recreation. This is a tension recognised by early planners such as Le Corbusier and Colin Buchanan.
Research for the report looked at recent public realm approaches such as Urban Mixed Priority Routes and Home Zones and focused specifically on shared space projects in England and the Netherlands including the INTERREG funded Shared Space Project. Such attempts to balance the civility and mobility needs of a place are shown in the report to be most effective when focus is placed on the processes used, such as community involvement, rather than specific project outcomes such as flush paving and granite setts.
The report also found that many of the schemes known as “shared space” in Great Britain had not begun as specifically road safety initiatives. Often they were part of urban regeneration, housing developments or business improvement district bids. The implications of “shared space” for road safety and for road casualties were a subsequent discussion.
Commenting on the report, Robert Gifford, Executive Director of PACTS, said “Shared space as a means of engaging communities in developing safer, more sustainable places and areas offers an exciting way forward. This report by PACTS is a further example of the need to think beyond traditional boundaries. It highlights the point that safety and design can go hand in hand. Well-designed environments should, by their very nature, be safer ones.
“The report also identifies the opportunities that a systems approach to design can offer. We do not need to use harsh engineering measures at all times and in all places. What we need are clearer messages to all road users about the behaviours that are expected in different areas. If you design a high street that looks like a high-speed dual carriageway, it should come as no surprise if drivers treat it as one.”
Copies of the report are available on PACTS’ website: www.pacts.org.uk or from the PACTS office through the telephone number below.
For further information, please contact Robert Gifford 020 7222 7732 (work)
Note to Editors: The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety is a registered charity and associate Parliamentary group. Its charitable objective is: To protect human life through the promotion of transport safety for the public benefit. It advises Parliamentarians on air, rail and road safety issues.
Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety
10 Storey’s Gate
London SW1P 3AY
Tel: 020 7222 7732
Registered charity number: 1068607
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