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Thread: London Experiments With Shared Streets

  1. Default London Experiments With Shared Streets

    A farewell to pavements


    11 November 2011

    By Justin McGuirk



    Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesi...-road-cultural


    .....

    London's Exhibition Road, the great Victorian thoroughfare that stretches half a mile from South Kensington tube station to Hyde Park in London. In the last 18 months, it has been ripped up and remade to a new design that all but abolishes the distinction between road and pavement. Instead, there's one continuous surface, cross-hatched dramatically in black-and-white granite. Pedestrians can wander where they like: they'll just have to negotiate the cars and bicycles. It's all very liberal, and something of an experiment. The impetus for this rule-breaking design came in 2003 when the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea decided that Exhibition Road wasn't quite living up to its name.

    - Today, Exhibition Road is in the final stages of its extraordinary transformation. With a few exceptions here and there, it is now a continuous, seamless surface of what is known as "shared space" – shared, that is, by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. And the emphasis is very much on pedestrians, who now have two thirds of the road's width to themselves. This gracious scheme was designed by the architects Dixon Jones, who won the competition back in 2003, but they take no credit for the "shared space" concept. This was pioneered by the Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman and later taken up by urban planning gurus such as the Dane Jan Gehl. It is relatively common in Holland and Scandinavia, and Kensington and Chelsea was particularly keen to try it here.

    - The idea is that when driving zones are heavily delineated, drivers tend to be on autopilot, focusing on other cars rather than pedestrians or cyclists. That's why London has so many guard rails on either side of pedestrian crossings, preventing pedestrians from straying into the road where they're not supposed to. But 10 years ago, Kensington and Chelsea experimented with removing the railings from Kensington High Street and found that the number of pedestrian accidents dropped by 60%. It seems that when drivers are forced to be more aware and pedestrians are forced to take more responsibility for themselves, everyone is safer. Rules, it seems, were counterproductive.

    - Strictly speaking, this not a totally "shared space". There is still technically a pavement, but it is only distinguished by a row of ribbed "corduroy" pavers, aimed in particular at helping the blind. As with all the detailing, it is highly minimal. Everything here, from the studded parking spaces to the traffic lanes, is about suggestion rather than certainty. When the road officially opens next month, the whole system will continue to be monitored carefully, but as a promenade from the tube station to the park, it is already a liberating experience. However, it was not just a matter of improving Exhibition Road as a pedestrian thoroughfare. "It was a question of how this road could become more of a street," says Edward Jones, of Dixon Jones. It's called a road because that's what it was: a route from A to B. But with the arrival of first the museums and later Imperial College, it wanted to become more of a street, which is defined by entrances to the buildings along it.

    - The US architect Louis Khan used to say: "The street is a community room." A long street, meanwhile, is a succession of rooms. And Exhibition Road is four quite distinct rooms. At the southern end, outside the tube station, it is as though the street is a public square. There are cafes and restaurants, and people eating their lunch sitting on the kerb around the tunnel's skylights – once the middle of a busy road. Across the Cromwell Road is the museum room, thronging with tourists. The next room along is outside Imperial College, and here the tourists give way to groups of students gathering in front of the steps. Finally, as we approach the Royal Geographical Society and the park, it feels residential, and the road returns to two distinct lanes of traffic. In this de-intensifying, it's almost like a journey from the city centre to suburbia.

    .....






  2. Default

    What you need to understand is that in Central London (though not Exhibition Road, usually) pedestrians outnumber cars usually. The usual scene in Covent Garden are hoards of tourists spilling out from the narrow sidewalks onto the cobblestone roads which subsequently block most traffic. I'm not sure such a concept could exist here in Toronto properly to be honest, but there does need to be more discussion around pedestrianisation of certain areas in Toronto

  3. Default

    In North America shared spaces are more common than people think. Every parking lot in every mall and plaza in the country is largely a shared space.

    In general there are four kinds of spaces when considering pedestrians and cars. There are pedestrian priority zones – where you don’t expect cars to be (sidewalks); there are vehicular priority zones, where you don’t expect pedestrian to be (driveways and traffic lanes); there are alternating zoning, where either vehicles or pedestrians have priority depending on the situation (crosswalks); and there are shared spaces where both pedestrians and vehicles are expected to co-exist. The majority of space in any parking lot is shared space – people drive through the parking lot, pull into a parking stall, then get out of their car and walk across the same parking lot to a sidewalk. People know how to behave in these spaces, cars drive slow and wait for pedestrians to move and pedestrians watch for cars and get out of their way if need be.

    If these formal Shared Spaces, like Exhibition Road in London, were introduced into North America all you would have to do is somehow get everyone to follow the same rules they do in a parking lot.
    Last edited by howl; 2011-Nov-17 at 16:23.

  4. Default

    I think there are a few places in Toronto that could be like this such as Kensington Market, parts of Ryerson and UofT's campuses, Market Street and even Yonge Street. If you look at a streetview of the intersection of Yonge & Queen, there are about 150 pedestrians and 20 cars near the intersection (and maybe a streetcar and a few cyclists).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Memph View Post
    I think there are a few places in Toronto that could be like this such as Kensington Market, parts of Ryerson and UofT's campuses, Market Street and even Yonge Street. If you look at a streetview of the intersection of Yonge & Queen, there are about 150 pedestrians and 20 cars near the intersection (and maybe a streetcar and a few cyclists).
    No need to be hypothetical about it, there are already two very similar projects on the books in Toronto. There's the Front Street reconstruction and the John Street redesign.

  6. Default

    They need to do something like this at Niagara Falls with that highway protruding through the pedestrians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reaperexpress View Post
    No need to be hypothetical about it, there are already two very similar projects on the books in Toronto. There's the Front Street reconstruction and the John Street redesign.
    Cool, I didn't know that the Front Street reconstruction would be so different from the original conditions. It only makes sense though. In the work terms I've had downtown, the sidewalks around Bay and Front were overcrowded and often overflowing onto the street during rush hour, and I did notice a lot of people crossing between York and Bay.

  8. Default

    Are Streets More Walkable with Pavements Removed?


    Nov 28th, 2011

    Read More: http://thisbigcity.net/are-streets-m...ments-removed/


    .....

    The new research examined a range of streets, from traditional streets with kerbs to ‘Shared Surface’ streets, where it is hard to tell where the pavement ends and the carriageway begins, such as New Road in Brighton. The study found that by removing kerbs, vehicle speeds were reduced below 20mph, although the researchers were quick to point out that this was a result of a combination of design measures. The research team also found that drivers were fourteen times more likely to give-way to pedestrians in shared space streets. This more considerate driver behaviour was attributed to:

    • Lower vehicle speeds;

    • Removing kerbs;

    • More people walking in the carriageway, which is encouraged by shared space design.

    - The study also produced guidance on how to design shared space, which should prove useful for the many local governments that are planning schemes to revitalise failing high streets. However throughout the guidance it is stressed that a successful shared space scheme is not just about getting rid of kerbs. The most effective shared space streets combined several different placemaking designs such as high quality materials, street trees and level surfaces. There is not one ‘silver bullet’ that will make a street more walkable, but rather a holistic approach to street design is most likely to achieve the best results.

    - However ‘Shared Space’ isn’t all good news, a very significant proportion of disabled people find streets without kerbs very difficult to navigate. This was reflected in the research which found that blind and partially sighted people felt more comfortable in traditional streets with pavements and kerbs than shared surface streets. The official guidance tries to address these concerns by encouraging designers to take disabled peoples needs into account and provide ‘comfort zones’ for vulnerable users. However this is unlikely to fully satisfy some groups representing disabled people, who have launched several campaigns against shared space.

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    I'd be interested in seeing the street in rainy conditions, which dominate the British year. Kerbs/curbs are meant as much to give surface runoff a place to pool as to separate cars and pedestrians.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mapleson View Post
    I'd be interested in seeing the street in rainy conditions, which dominate the British year. Kerbs/curbs are meant as much to give surface runoff a place to pool as to separate cars and pedestrians.
    London might have more rainy days than here, but they don't get as much precipitation during the year as we do. It tends to be drizzle and light rain. You see torrential rain far more frequently here than there. I wouldn't think you'd need as place for surface run off to pool as you do here.

  11. Default

    Then there should be more sloped versions here and perhaps with more drains.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by nfitz View Post
    London might have more rainy days than here, but they don't get as much precipitation during the year as we do. It tends to be drizzle and light rain. You see torrential rain far more frequently here than there. I wouldn't think you'd need as place for surface run off to pool as you do here.
    The storms and weather might not be as intense as southern Ontario, but they do have their own extereme weather events. There will always be conditions that challenge the capacity of the infrastructure, it's just a question of if you build for a 5-year storm or a 100-year storm.

  13. Default

    It looks like there's a continuous trench with perforated metal cover where the curb would normally be. That trench is a replacement for the curb pooling space. Basically they just put it under the surface. Its a pretty common detail for european streets with low-profile mountable curbs.

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