Shared spaces: Where cars, pedestrians and cyclists coexist

By Sharlan Douglas
This is the second planning-themed article from CWA’s marketing consultant, based on observations from a recent vacation in France

 Throughout Europe, designers are deliberately creating shared spaces even along wide streets. Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman pioneered the concept, which removes all traffic control devices, markings, signs and curbs.

shared-streets1

“The philosophy is that absence of all of those features forces all users of the space — from pedestrians to drivers — to negotiate passage through the space via eye contact and person to person negotiation,” says this article from the Project for Public Spaces. “This is all premised on the idea that traditional streets allocate distinct spaces to the different modes, and in doing so create a false sense of security to each user leading them to behave as if they have no responsibility to look out for other users in ‘their” space.”

Monderman is quoted as saying: “We’re losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior …The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.”

While calling for continued study of shared spaces, the article reports that they

  • Reduce accidents
  • Coexist with high-speed roads, and
  • Are a political concept, not a transportation concept.

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