A review by the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) into shared spaces has found that many of the ideas that underpin the concept of the design need serious reassessment. The CIHT provided a list of recommendations of actions to be taken by the Government to adjust the shared spaces idea as a result of the review.
The shared space is a road design that aims to slow down traffic by creating a level of uncertainty over which road users have priority. This is done by removing street features such as road markings, traffic signs and kerbs. They have been a controversial talking point with regards to road safety over the past few years, and have been subject to many reviews and much criticism. One of the biggest worries amongst many is the safety of vulnerable pedestrians using the street, particularly how the removal of kerbs may affect the safety of the blind.
The CIHT review suggests that more research is needed to prove that shared spaces work in practice in the same way as they are said to work in theory, and that the Government should consider replacing the design with either a “pedestrian-prioritised street” or an “informal street.”
The review states: “The most significant decision required is when to move from the pedestrian-prioritised street type, where the driver should be seen as a guest, into the informal street type, where pedestrians will need to cross a defined carriageway.”
It goes on to recommend that the Government conducts more research to clarify to local authorities when which of these should be used. It also suggests that more research is needed in order to clarify what should be the most appropriate kerb height, implying that not enough consideration has been given to visually impaired people in the design.
The CIHT also made multiple other recommendations, including to update highway guidance on how to improve streets, so that it can be done in a more consistent manner. It also recommends that previous research into shared spaces should be reviewed, as other reviews have found there to be flaws in this research.
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