Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Take Away the Street Clutter, and Make a Shared Space?

I went in a sceptic, and came out converted. That was how I would describe the presentation I attended at the Grove Theatre in Dunstable on Monday night. Central Bedfordshire put on the evening to allow parish and town councillors the opportunity to learn about shared space.

So what is shared space? Well, take the most unfriendly road junction you can think of in your locality, take away the sign posts, the traffic lights, the roundabouts, the yellow lines, the railings, and let the users of that space decide how they would like to use it. The result, we were enthused to agree with, is what happens when experienced skaters converge on a skating rink. Everyone takes it easy, avoids each other, and the whole thing moves along like magic. Only the speaker didn't call it magic, more he called it taking advantage of the human skills we all posess.

Well, I have to say, my mind was constantly turning towards the lights at Bedford Road/High Street junction in Houghton Regis. If a roundabout was tried in the past, and failed, and the lights are failing us now, maybe this "free-for-all" approach is worth a look?

Just as one town was persuaded to cover up its traffic lights for a couple of days, "to see what happens"; I was thinking "Yes, let's do the same here, and see what happens." And that town's people's, so we were told, would not let the officials take the bags off, because everything was working much more smoothly than ever it had before. Yes, please, I thought. Where do I sign?

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLfasxqhBNU

Footnote: still wondering how the blind and partially sighted cope with these arrangements, but am sure blind skating is a possibility... let me know.
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