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Tuesday, December 06, 2011
A $1 million redevelopment of New Plymouth's dingy lower Brougham St will put cars and pedestrians on the same level.
From March next year much of the street between Devon St and Ariki St will become a single level shared space for cars, pedestrians, cyclists and even skateboarders.
The redevelopment is to be funded from the council's $3.71m model walking and cycling community grant and will create a type of space increasingly used in street renewals around the world.
"We've taken notes from similar street redevelopments in central Auckland where there aren't separate spaces for traffic and pedestrians, but rather a shared space which has resulted in an open, fresh-feeling public area where once there was just a road," said Let's Go project manager Carl Whittleston.
"We are trying to makes this space pedestrian-friendly but we're not seeking to keep vehicles out."
To achieve this shared space concept, defined footpaths are gone and seating areas, planter boxes and a green space determine where cars and people can go.
A single lane of road will remain for buses turning right out of King St and parking spaces will still be provided for library users.
Mr Whittleston expected the design to be completed in January with plans put up for display in Puke Ariki. All going well, construction will start in March next year.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
...Coventry City Council has ditched traffic lights in eight busy junctions and put in 20mph speed limits to give drivers and pedestrians equal priority as part of a “shared space” scheme.
Council leaders say the schemes will lead to road users paying more attention and make the city centre safer, more attractive and pedestrian-friendly. But Jim Smallman, aged 62, of Green Lane, Finham, says the European-style changes have created “no-go areas” for the blind.
Read More http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/2011/11/23/blind-man-slams-coventry-shared-space-junctions-92746-29827275/#ixzz1eaBb4icJ
Friday, November 11, 2011
Is it a mad idea to turn roads and pavements into one great big shared space? London's grandest cultural artery will shortly find out
By Justin McGuirk
"...Roads and pavements are rules, keeping hard cars and soft pedestrians apart. Lane markings, pedestrian crossings and steel railings are another layer of rules. Do we really need such nannying? What if we relaxed the rules a little?
This is exactly what's happening at 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..."
Saturday, August 06, 2011
August 7, 2011
Stop and go. Stop and go. Stop and go. Man, city driving can be a drag. What makes highway driving so much quicker?
City streets are designed to the exact same standards as highways — traffic engineers are trained to build highways and nothing else — so there shouldn't be a difference. So, why does traffic creep along inside city limits when streets are just like highways?
The problem lies at the intersections. Cars can, and do, achieve highway design speeds between intersections, but waiting at red lights kills the averages. Next time you're traversing city streets, reset your car's average mph computer (if your car is so equipped) and you'll find that even though you achieve bursts of 40 to 60 mph, your average speed settles in around 12 to 14 mph, unless congestion drops it further.
To be sure, no small effort has been devoted to combating the inefficiency of intersections, including traffic signals, convoluted timing devices for synchronization, striping lines, signs, etc. But so far the complexities of urban street systems continue to dog all such efforts. So we wait and wait for the light to change.
What would happen if we took the opposite tack? What if intersections were wiped clean of all the clutter? What if there were no stop lights, no signs, no striping?
As crazy as this idea may seem, not only has it received serious attention but it's actually gaining traction around the globe, including tentative forays in the U.S., with consistently impressive results.
It was first done to slow traffic speeds and improve safety, but mounting statistics indicate that where streetlights and stop signs are removed, top speeds drop from 40-60 mph to 20-30 mph, but average speeds increase from 12-14 mph to 17-19 mph. In other words, overall trip times drop when all signage and signals are removed, even though top speeds decrease. However, the biggest shocker is that accidents drop by half.
The simple explanation is that people, whether they are drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians, become more aware of each other, and preternatural avoidance systems take over to protect us from each other — just like the common sense that kicks in to prevent people from crashing into one another on a crowded ice skating rink.
The technique of creating "shared streets," where people, bicycles and cars all coexist in one shared space without signals and signage, found its roots in the late 1960s when Dutch traffic planner Hans Monderman worked with a largely grass-roots group to attack mounting safety concerns on roads. It was Monderman who first determined that common-sense instincts could trump all the separation and control devices that dominate roadway design.
His best-known early success was the Dutch "Woonerf," or "Living Street" project in Delft in 1968. He continued to develop the concept at intersections throughout the Netherlands until his death in 2008.
While Monderman's initiatives were primarily aimed at calming traffic and improving safety, other benefits emerged as signs and signals were removed. Merchants and property owners began to notice demonstrable increases in foot traffic in the newly shared streets, which led to increased retail sales, restaurant usage and demand for housing.
In other words, the unintended consequence of Monderman's safety efforts was to stimulate economic prosperity. The prosperity factor significantly widened the band of advocates for his cause, already named the Monderman Model.
In his spirit, Ben Hamilton-Baillie, a British architect and urban designer, began similar efforts. Like Monderman, Hamilton-Baillie began his career focused on street safety, in his case for bicyclists. He came to see that the Monderman Model offered obvious applications to safe bicycling.
Over the past 11 years, Hamilton-Baillie has created shared space, removing all traffic signals, signage and striping, at intersections in 56 communities in the U.K., including London, as well as in communities in Germany, Ireland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Canada. In all cases, interventions consistently lowered driving speeds, shortened trip times and significantly improved pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular safety.
As in the Monderman Model, Hamilton-Baillie's projects increased foot traffic in the shared space areas, and increased economic prosperity, or "uplift," as the British call it.
At one such project, the Great Queen Street shared space in London, residential retail and commercial uplift has been more than $800 million, according to a study.
Of course the reverse lesson of shared space projects is the deadening effect of streets designed like highways. These streets were supposed to improve safety and mobility and don't even do that, much less foster prosperity. It is time to stop the madness. Joining pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles in shared space releases normative human behaviors that could rekindle that dusty old project, civilization. Let's speed it along.
Robert Orr is an architect and planner in New Haven.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
By Naoise Coogan
Kilkenny had a visit from the Naked Street Consultant this week. Ben Hamilton Baillie was in Kilkenny at the invitation of the Kilkenny City Centre Business Association (KCCBA) to assess Kilkenny’s streetscapes and traffic management system.
Mr Hamilton Baillie is renowned for his radical and contemporary street layouts which includes the removal of signage, barriers, rails, speed limits and any other impediment that might obstruct the natural flow of both pedestrian and motorised traffic.
Unconventional as his views may be, Mr Hamilton Baillie has had his plans implemented in several other European cities including the Netherlands, France and of course his homeland in the UK.
Speaking to the Kilkenny Advertiser during his visit Mr Hamilton Baillie said that although he is not up to date on Kilkenny’s system, he is aware of other medieval cities like Kilkenny that have implemented his street designs.
“I’m not a fan of one way systems personally. I don’t think they work very well. I really believe that if you change people’s mindsets, put the responsibility back on them to be careful that they accept this responsibility with gusto and this makes the streets a safer place.
“For example, a signalled pedestrian crossing has been proven to be two-and-a-half times more dangerous than no pedestrian crossing at all. This is because the lights and signage dictate your behaviour, however, if you are required to analyse the safety of crossing the road yourself, you are much more likely to be more careful — it makes sense,” he said.
Mr Hamilton Baillie also met with the county manager, Joe Crockett, officials and some members of the council on Monday morning for a consultation. Mr Crockett said that the concepts were interesting but at this point there were no definite plans determined for Kilkenny’s High Street.
“We are awaiting a report to be returned from WIT on research carried out on the affect of the one way system on businesses in the city and until we get this data, we really won’t know what we will do.”
The one way system trial was officially up after six months and business people are adamant that it has had a negative affect on their businesses. Some 100 people attended a meeting some two weeks ago organised by the KCCBA to voice their concerns, and this week more business people came along to a presentation by Mr Hamilton Baillie on his radical concept for traffic management.
“It’s customers that are saying to us that it is simply too difficult to get in and out of the city. They psychologically can’t get their head around having to drive all the way around the city to get to where they want to go because they cannot turn right from Bateman Quay onto Rose Inn Street and then they cannot drive up the High Street. We need to start from scratch and design a new plan for the city centre as the one in place is simply not working and this can be seen by almost every business in the city,” said Phil Walsh CEO of Goods on the High Street.
Cllr Betty Manning who is also a business person trading on the High Street was also adamant that something new needed to be done to sort out the problems and that the council needed to heed the voice of local business who made up the heart of Kilkenny city.
There will be several meetings of the council members and officials before a resolution is decided upon, and whether Mr Hamilton Baillie will be commissioned to design a new concept for Kilkenny’s High Street. Until then, the one-way system remains in place and Kilkenny businesses continue to count their losses.
Meanwhile pedestrians are happier and feel more confident and comfortable on the High Street as it feels safer and is less congested than before.
Friday, December 04, 2009
The safety calls were made in Moseley after a pensioner and four boys died in two separate incidents last month.
Teresa Queenan was in collision with a lorry as she crossed the junction of Alcester Road and Salisbury Road on November 9 while four boys died when the car in which they were travelling hit a wall in Salisbury Road on November 14.
Now, the Moseley Forum group has demanded a so-called shared space scheme in the suburb as soon as possible.
The aim is to remove barriers, including road signs, bollards and lights, between car and pedestrian to turn the street into a self-regulated area used by all.
It has been pioneered with some success in Holland and is being introduced in various part of the United Kingdom.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Bikes, cars share Oak Street
New 'sharrows' signs on pavement give notice
By John Darling, For the Ashland Daily Tidings, November 18, 2009
"...Oak Street officially became the city's first "shared roadway" this week when crews laid thermoplastic signs on the pavement between Lithia Way and Nevada Street..."
Monday, October 19, 2009
The fault occurred early on Tuesday (October 13) where Southgate Street meets High Street.
The bottleneck often forces drivers to queue for several hundred yards along Southgate Street and the city’s one-way system.
Yet there were only a handful of vehicles on both sides of the junction while the lights were broken. There were also no reports of accidents.
Nearby traders, who see the jams on a daily basis, said the traffic was much lighter.
Matt Lunney, a negotiator at Pearsons estate agents in Southgate Street, noticed the difference.
He said: “Everything is settling down and there’s only been one or two people going a bit too fast along Southgate Street.
“The traffic isn’t too bad. It often goes back a fair way from here but that doesn’t seem to have happened this morning.”
Across the road, Susan Whyman runs the Childhood’s Dream toyshop, and said traffic was flowing freely.
She said: “I drove through it to get to work this morning. There doesn’t seem to be any trouble outside but I’m not sure if it would stay that way if a large truck came around the corner.”
Along with lorries, many buses also use the junction, including the Bluestar 1 service to Southampton.
Alan Weeks of the Winchester City Residents’ Association often rides the bus into town, and went through the affected junction. While vehicles were doing fine, he said it was risky for pedestrians.
“The people crossing the road were taking their life in their hands, as there weren’t any gaps in the traffic,” he said.
Winchester Friends of the Earth spokesman, Chris Gillham, said they wanted pedestrians to have more priority over cars.
One idea to achieve this in Winchester is ‘shared space’, which includes reducing street furniture.
Mr Gillham said they would support having fewer traffic lights, not just as part of the scheme, but to reduce street clutter too.
County council engineers fixed the fault before Tuesday evening’s rush hour. Traffic returned to normal the next day, with longer queues.
The county council was asked if it might consider switching them back off as an experiment, but it said it would compromise pedestrian safety.
Apart from the Southgate Street lights, there are nine further sets on Winchester’s one-way system in Union, Eastgate, Upper Brook, St George’s and Jewry Streets, along with North Walls and Friarsgate.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
A project implemented by the European Union is currently seeing seven cities and regions clear-cutting their forest of traffic signs. A project implemented by the European Union is currently seeing seven cities and regions clear-cutting their forest of traffic signs...The utopia has already become a reality in Makkinga, in the Dutch province of Western Frisia. A sign by the entrance to the small town (population 1,000) reads "Verkeersbordvrij" -- "free of traffic signs." Cars bumble unhurriedly over precision-trimmed granite cobblestones. Stop signs and direction signs are nowhere to be seen. There are neither parking meters nor stopping restrictions. There aren't even any lines painted on the streets...[more]
Drachten is one of the pioneer towns for such schemes. Accident figures at one junction where traffic lights were removed have dropped from thirty-six in the four years prior to the introduction of the scheme to two in the two years following it. Only three of the original fifteen sets of traffic lights remain. Tailbacks (traffic jams) are now almost unheard of at the town's main junction, which handles about 22,000 cars a day [more]
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
[Monderman]...also claimed that congestion, traffic jams and the rush-hour would be alleviated if not completely eliminated by removing all these state traffic regulations. He further argued that if traffic is slowed down it will actually move quicker.
At the heart of shared space lies the idea of integration. This contrasts with the traditional town planning practices of segregation, where traffic and people must be ruthlessly seperated. Monderman’s attitude - which is well worth Bristol City Council taking on board - was:
“If you treat drivers like idiots, they act as idiots. Never treat anyone in the public realm as an idiot, always assume they have intelligence.”
Of course for much of his life Monderman was himself treated as a dangerous idiot by traditional traffic experts, civil engineers and the huge and powerful corporate vested interests behind them. But where his ideas have been tried such as in his home town of Friesland, Holland and in Scandinavia they have been highly successful...
...Could this be the ideal place for the city to create a shared space scheme? What’s there to lose? If it fails then our traffic engineer traditionalists can lovingly recreate their pensioner death trap again in a few years time anyway. [more]
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
...The general explanation to these remarkable results was that pedestrians experience a false feeling of safety when protected by zebra marking or signalization. Another way of expressing it could be that pedestrians cross more carefully when no help is provided...
...The conclusion from most recent research is that there is a need to guarantee either completeseparation between pedestrians and vehicular traffic, or create good conditions for properinteraction between the pedestrian and the driver... " [more]
Allan B Jacobs has been described as ‘the ultimate student of the street’ by the Project for Public Spaces (PPS). The author of Great Streets and The Boulevard Book was asked by PPS to summarize the key conclusions from his long career as both a researcher and practicing urban designer. His response was two-fold. Firstly, he concludes that improving streetscapes and urban design requires utilizing the power of observation and questioning assumptions. Secondly, he advocates fostering interaction between pedestrians and cars in the public realm....
...Remove formal pedestrian crossings. They merely contribute to the conditions that, in turn, give them an apparent purpose. By introducing a false sense of safety to the pedestrian, they increase danger. Courtesy crossings are cheaper, simpler, and more appropriate. A wide-ranging review of pedestrian crossing types by the University of Lund suggests that informal crossings are significantly safer than puffins, pelicans, toucans, zebras and all the rest of the complicated and expensive zoological armoury...
... If any highway authority is nervous about risk or liability, refer them to the case of Corringe v. Calderdale. It is the duty of drivers to take the road as they find it…
Sunday, March 29, 2009
One problem in our transportation policy is that funding is unduly weighted to spending money on roads rather than spending money on mass transit. Another problem in our transportation policy is that funding is unduly weighted to building new roads rather than to doing the necessary work to maintain the roads we already have in excellent condition. But yet another problem is that there are roads and then there are roads. There are freeways, and there are boulevards. There are connected networks of streets that can be walked or biked as well as driven, and there impenetrable mazes of cul-de-sacs...[more]
This article is interesting - especially for the many reader comments that follow.
e.g. .."...the one on the left looks European, while the one on the right North American (gross simplification). In Europe the one of the left would have parks, footpaths and cyclelanes between the cul-de-sacs and would therefore be friendly to non-driving modes of transport."
Saturday, March 28, 2009
This story came via a note on the BTA blog :
Today's New York Times reports on a simple step that has already reduced car travel by 100,000 miles in the town of Lecco, in northern Italy: kids walking to school.
Just as Portland contemplates cutting the Safer Routes program that serves families and kids at 25 Portland schools, other communities around the US and the world are realizing how much traffic, pollution and ill health could be avoided if those families within walking- or biking-distance of their school sent their kids under their own power, and not by car
Thursday, March 19, 2009
...By adopting the concept of a shared space the scheme has transformed a traditional, motorist dominated street scene incorporating rigid features such as kerbs and crossings into one where pedestrians are able to move freely over the whole area and have priority over other users. The inclusion within the design of attractive features such as bespoke seating and lighting has improved the experience of many people who use the area, and has created a new café culture with a lively, welcoming atmosphere which is pedestrian friendly both during the day and in the evening. Local people were involved in the design process through a series of workshops and it is clear that the scheme has improved the experience for many people who use it...[more]
Woonerf is a Dutch word that translates roughly as "street for living," and refers to Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman's innovative and increasingly popular contribution to urban design: a streetscape stripped of lane markers, curbs, sidewalks, zebra crossings and other obvious boundaries denoting spaces meant for single forms of transportation. While at first blush such an experiment would seem to make the street more dangerous for its users, the woonerf actually ensures increased safety for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike, because of how the ambiguous design mixes otherwise discrete user groups...
Blurring the boundary between street and sidewalk, woonerfs combine innovative paving, landscaping and other urban designs to allow for the integration of multiple functions in a single street, so that pedestrians, cyclists and children playing share the road with slow-moving cars.
At an intersection in Portland’s Chinatown, the asphalt street suddenly gives way to an urban oasis. A pair of massive, granite planters with palm trees flank the entrance to the street, which opens onto a one-block space paved with concrete squares. There are no white lane dividers or sidewalks. Instead, rough-hewn granite columns distinguish places for pedestrians and places for cars.
“The idea of this street is that it’s designed like a public square but it’s open to traffic,” said Ellen Vanderslice, a project manager for the Portland Department of Transportation. “We were very consciously trying to create a body language of the street that tells people something different is going on here.”
...The approach appears to be working, she said. “Pedestrians tend to just mosey across the street every which way,” Vanderslice said. “And drivers slow down and pay attention.”
Portland’s so-called “festival street,” which opened two months ago, is one of a small but growing number of projects in the United States that seek to reclaim streets used by cars as public places for people, too. The strategy is to blur the boundary between pedestrians and automobiles by removing sidewalks and traffic devices, and to create a seamless multi-purpose urban space...
[ lots more ]
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
"The sharrow sends the message to cyclists, 'yes, you are welcome here,' "...
...Pioneered in Denver in the mid-1990s, sharrows are attracting the attention of transportation officials around the United States. But the markings are controversial. In June, Boulder, Colo., became one of the few cities outside of California to install the shared-lane markings... [more]
See also story about introduction of SHARROWS in Cincinnati
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
A recent article shows that East Geenwich is, like Ashland, having ideas about street lighting, sustainability and safety issues.
Main Street Dims Its Lights
"...“We wanted to see if the cobra lights are really needed,” he said. “If people decide it’s not working, we’ll change it back.”The idea percolated out of the Downtown Planning Initiative, a subcommittee of the East Greenwich Planning Board. The town council approved the idea in December and National Grid turned off the cobra lights last week.He said the change will also save the town money on its electric bill and said the reduced light will have a “natural traffic calming effect” on Main Street. “Traffic will definitely slow down”... [more]
Another article in the newspaper shows that they too are also looking at light rail options for their community.
article: An East Greenwich Train Station
"...East Greenwich and the state have expressed interest in locating a rail station in East Greenwich since 2004, and some conceptual groundwork for transit-oriented development zones in town has already been completed..."
...Judith Armitt, managing director of Ashford’s Future, said: “Our shared space scheme has set the standard for transforming a major town centre road and several local authorities are looking to follow our lead. Following several high profile visits we are delighted to welcome the President of the ICE. Shared space is helping unlock the commercial development potential of Ashford and has made the area much more attractive to residents and visitors.”
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Pedestrians, save gas by not making traffic stop for you
Pedestrians! Don't make autos stop for you at crosswalks! Although autos are required by law to stop for pedestrians, we'd use less gasoline and create less pollution if pedestrians waited for traffic to clear before crossing, or walked half a block to the closest stoplight...So all you oh-so-green Ashlanders, do your bit to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lessen the risk of global warming — don't make vehicles stop for you at crosswalks!
read entire letter at [link]
Perhaps a better solution might be to eliminate all the traffic signals and reduce the speed of vehicles such that pedestrians could safely cross anywhere between the slow-moving traffic. Drivers would be watching the pedestrians rather than the green-for-GO signal above them.
Sounds like - Shared space ! see video - Introduction to Shared Space
Thursday, March 05, 2009
...Reader Tim Koelle sends this report of a busted traffic signal gone terribly right at the intersection of West Broadway and Grand yesterday morning:
I watched for an hour while cars, trucks and pedestrians shared this space quietly... with civility! Little honking, no aggressive driving, no traffic cop. Why? Because the light was out.
No one had to speed up and honk to make the green light on time; no one honked or changed lanes to take advantage of the narrow window of time the light granted them. Everyone came to a stop, looked around (wondering why the light was dead, and what they should do), and proceeded slowly thru.
Instead of a line of cars waiting for the light to change, alternate sides vying with each other for the few precious moments allowing them the right to pass thru... no one had to wait very long. And in fact the alternate sides traded back and forth, almost at a one-to-one ratio. No one had to wait, so no one got stuck in a line, so no one sped up, so no one honked, so there was no need for aggressive driving! Even pedestrians got their due... [more, with comments]
It reminds me of when a power cut in Downtown Ashland happened just at evening rush hour, shutting down all the traffic signals.
Everybody just quietly took their turn - bikes, pedestrians and cars all watching each other, rather than waiting for the eye-in-the-sky to tell them to GO !
I have also heard reports of early morning commuters stopped and waiting at red lights on Lithia Way - for the non-existing cross traffic. Do we actually need traffic signals in Ashland?
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
The West End Partnership will start work on Monday to transform New Inn Hall Street, following the completion of the £2m facelift of neighbouring Bonn Square in December.
The resurfacing project will last 20 weeks and is designed to encourage vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists to be courteous and give way to each other.
Although the full width of the street, including pavements, will be at the same level, the pavement areas will still be clearly marked.
Oxfordshire County Council, which is planning to pedestrianise more of the city centre as part of its Transform Oxford project, is providing £125,000 towards the work. [more]
Sunday, March 01, 2009
by Ben Hamilton-Baillie Hamilton-Baillie Associates Limited, Bristol, United Kingdom
Contribution by the author to the world wide collaborative project “Messages for America: World-wide experience, ideas, counsel, proposals and good wishes for the incoming Obama transportation team”. See www.messages.newmobility.org for latest version of this report of the New Mobility Agenda
Looking back at 2009 from the closing days of Barrack Obama’s presidency, it is sometimes surprising to appreciate how much has changed in the relationship between people, places and traffic, and to grasp the effect of the dramatic policy change that took hold back then. Aware that successful cities are judged on the quality of their public realm, policy makers began to transform city streets from soulless arteries for vehicles into spaces shared equally by pedestrians, cars, taxis, buses, bicycles and every kind of social activity. Given the huge benefits that sprang from the multiple use of public urban space for safety, movement, accessibility, and economic vitality, it is now hard to recall how different typical streets once looked.Until 2009, they looked like everywhere else. In those days. the roadways providing running space for vehicles were carefully separated from pedestrian spaces. Kerbs, steel barriers, bollards and paint markings reinforced this separation. Different organisations looked after the two worlds that this segregation created, one managed by “traffic engineers”, the other by “urban designers”. Traversing this divide required specific crossings controlled by traffic lights, buttons and beeping signals. Standardised signs, traffic islands, poles, control boxes and illuminated bollards littered the spaces between buildings. Behaviour in the roadway was controlled by the state via cameras, and normal social courtesies were discouraged.Inspired by pioneering examples from Europe, and particularly by the work of Hans Monderman from The Netherlands, people suddenly realised that all this highway clutter was no longer needed. Without traffic signals, signs and markings, traffic flowed slowly and more smoothly. Congestion diminished. Casualty rates, particularly for children and vulnerable pedestrians, declined sharply. Shops flourished as pedestrian footfall increased, with people negotiating their way through slowly moving traffic using informal communication and courtesy. Bus companies reported more reliable running times. Every street in America began to reflect its history, context and purpose, reflecting the richness and diversity of the country’s huge geography and infinite variety.Only the most busy traffic arteries remained segregated, such as the freeways and major arterial highways. All the remaining city streets became “shared space”. Back in 2009, most found the change surprising and a little daunting. It seemed almost perverse and counter-intuitive to take away rules and regulations, signs and signals, and to rely on people’s commonsense and adaptive skills. And yet, just as crowds seem to develop an intuitive choreography in busy complex spaces such as railway station forecourts and departure lounges, so drivers and pedestrians engaged in a new respectful relationship at busy intersections. Speeds remained below 20 mph. Delaying a bus or lorry became a serious social gaffe. Eye contact and hand signals became more sophisticated. Driving behaviour adapted to the times of day and rhythms of the city, with quite different styles when schools were coming out, when the bars were closing, or when streets were empty before dawn. Pedestrians walked where they wished to walk. Bicycling became the norm in the low speed, smooth flowing streets. Taxi drivers still grumbled. Traffic signal engineers were retrained as park keepers and window cleaners. Civility flourished.So many changes in the past eight years, but none more significant for the quality of everyday life in America as the moment when engineering merged with creativity and commonsense.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled plans to pedestrianize a large swath of Broadway in Midtown Manhattan ...
...Extending from 59th Street at Columbus Circle to 23rd Street at Madison Square with substantial pedestrian-only areas at Times and Herald Squares, Mayor Bloomberg's plan for Broadway is, arguably, the boldest and most transformative street reclamation project since Portland, Oregon decided to tear down Harbor Drive in 1974...
Construction on the street redesign -- which is being presented as a pilot project and being built with temporary materials -- will start in May and continue through August...
...Sadik-Khan said she expected the bike lane would mainly be used by tourists and pedicabs. The bicycle rental company Bike & Roll is considering setting up a rental facility somewhere along the route. [more]
Sunday, February 22, 2009
By Professor Hugo D Godoy Azar
"...I invite you to try an exercise of observation that clearly illustrates our idea:At night, proceed to a wide straight avenue, if possible 500-metres long, with traffic lights working at the end. You will see that despite the distance, you will be able to see clearly the lamps of the traffic lights, which have a minimum of between 75 and 150 watts. Wait until a car arrives and stops at the lights. You will be able to see clearly its rear lights – of 5 watts! Intriguing, isn’t it?..." [more]
The SmartCode was released by Duany Plater-Zyberk and Company (DPZ)in 2003, after two decades of research and implementation.
The code is open source and free of charge.
[download pdf of the code]
(extract from his blog)
...The New Urbanists had not set out to build monuments to Yuppie-Boomer consumerism, but a peculiar destiny shoved them into that role for a while – even while they toiled elsewhere around the nation to reform town planning laws and generally provide an antidote to the fatal cultural cancer of sprawl, that is, of a settlement pattern guaranteed to comprehensively bankrupt our society. Anyway, the collapse of the housing bubble has affected the New Urbanists' business, too, and this may turn out to be a very good thing because they can put aside the distractions of building very grand places to sop up ill-gotten wealth and focus on the issues that Mr. Obama's people should have been paying attention to all along, namely, how are we going to reform the way we live in this country and what will be the physical manifestation of how we live in the decades to come.
The New Urbanists have preached for years that conventional suburbia would fail America in the long run, and that we'd have to prepare for this failure by restoring traditional modes of occupying the landscape. So far, the Obama team has not been willing to identify the suburban system as the heart of our economic problem. They can't recognize it for what it truly is: a living arrangement with no future – and an economic, ecological, and spiritual disaster. It is, of course, the primary reason why we find ourselves in the deadly predicament of importing over two-thirds of the oil we use every day. But then, more than half the population lives the suburban way of life, with its deadly mortgage traps, its mandatory motoring, and its civic disengagements. Nobody in power dares tell the truth: that we can't live this way anymore. But there are scores of places like Montgomery, Alabama, and thousands of traditional main street small towns that are sitting out there waiting to be re-activated. We need to do this much more than we need to build new freeways to the beach. Suburbia is not going to be abandoned overnight (even if it fails logistically and economically !) but we have got to arrive at a consensus about rehabilitating our forsaken small cities and small towns. The New Urbanists have gathered, organized, and codified all the principle and methodology needed to carry out this campaign. This should be their moment. Mr. Obama and his team should get with the program.
Pedestrians are being encouraged to walk out in front of cars and traffic lights have been removed in a unique experiment on Britain’s roads.
Drivers no longer have the right of way on the ring road in Ashford, Kent, and have to negotiate their way across junctions, with no signs or lines to guide them. All road users, whether travelling on foot, by bicycle, car or bus, have equal priority and must use eye contact to decide who goes first...
...But Ashford is the first place to introduce the purest form of shared space, under which traffic lights are considered not only unnecessary but a potential cause of collisions.
The theory is that lights lull people into a false sense of security, meaning that they pay less attention on a green light and fail to notice someone stepping off the pavement.... [more]
Videos here and here
Cities alarmed by deaths and injuries of pedestrians are ramping up efforts to make crosswalks safer for people on foot, especially seniors and children who need more time to cross streets.
A pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash in the USA every 110 minutes; one is injured every nine minutes, according to federal data. Crosswalks can be especially perilous for the elderly. ..
In 2006, 471 pedestrians nationwide were killed in crosswalks, down slightly from 488 10 years earlier, according to the NHTSA. Several factors contribute to danger at crosswalks:
•Highways are designed and built primarily to accommodate vehicles, not pedestrians.
•Most pedestrian accidents at intersections involve turning vehicles. Drivers who routinely fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks run little risk of being cited unless they actually strike a pedestrian.
•About one-third of pedestrian deaths result from their disobeying traffic signals or using poor judgment, according to federal data.
see story of yet another crosswalk accident in Ashland on Feb. 18. 2009 :
Car Hits Woman Crossing
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
– Reduced vehicle speeds
– Reduced conflict points
– Improved sight distance
- Improved pedestrian & bike safety
Read the Rosales handbook here or Dan Burden's 1999 paper on Road Diets here
Interviewed on JPR's Jefferson Exchange 10/10/08 , John Fregonese, former Ashland Planning Director stated:
"...We did an Ashland Street plan. It was one of the last things I did when I was here.......I think the idea was to try to make Ashland Street - which quite frankly has got two extra lanes - I mean, you could really take two more lanes out of that and make it a more livable, pedestrian-friendly street. It just doesn't justify the number of lanes it has for the traffic..."
Would a Road Diet also work for North Main between Maple and Downtown Ashland ?
National experts on 'place-making' were brought in to help and advise on the best ways forward... [more]
This is how the UK's Daily Mirror described the incident:
...Elle Macpherson is not exactly a model mum - as she cycles along with her son perched precariously on the handlebars.
Elle, 44, seemed oblivious to the dangers as she laughed and chatted with [son] Aurelius Cy while weaving through busy West London streets... [more]
The Guardian's Simon Jenkins however had a different opinion:
Elle Macpherson deserves a medal...
The press are idiots to condemn the model for cycling without a helmet. The real villains are over-active traffic managers
...Macpherson was probably the safest cyclist in London that day. Like the mayor [of London] , Boris Johnson, she is signed up (I guess by instinct) to the Wilde-Adams theory of compensatory risk assessment. By not wearing a helmet, she lowers her risk threshold and thus rides more carefully. She commendably cycles rather than drives a car and protects her child, who cannot manage his own risk. The society should give her a medal, not insult her. The press were idiots.
By chance, this week sees the publication of another tome in the mountain of evidence that Britain's safety culture is making us increasingly unsafe. Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic collates a mass of evidence about how we drive cars and use roads. It demonstrates the extent of mendacious brain-washing inflicted on the public by health-and-safety lawyers, bureaucrats and sellers of expensive equipment...Galileo had the same trouble with the Inquisition. I say give Elle Macpherson a Galileo medal. [more]
What do YOU think?
Thursday, February 19, 2009
by Celeste Gilman and Robert Gilman
[excerpted from a paper presented to 3rd Urban Street Symposium,June 24-27, 2007 Seattle, Washington]
Langley, Washington, a semi-rural town of 1,050 people, is expected to grow by 40 to 100 percent over the next 20 years. One of the town’s biggest assets is its pedestrian friendly character, which is currently supported by low traffic volumes.
Anticipating this growth, the City is developing new street design standards to support all users and modes. One of the new street types is “shared-use,” which mixes pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers in a low-speed environment that emphasizes the community function of the street... [more]
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Ever dreamed of making the streets outside your abode more livable, pedestrian-friendly, and community-oriented?
City Repair in Portland, Oregon hosts an annual Village Building Convergence where hundreds of people come together to build diverse projects for the benefit of their communites and to take back their streets via a process known as the Intersection Repair.This involves painting streets with a high-visiblity mural that creates a public square for residents to gather and one which gently encourages drivers to slow down when approaching these spaces. Over time the neighbors further enhance the transformation by adding amenities like benches, community bulletin boards, and introducing gardens & art. As you'll see, the possibilites are endless.StreetFilms visited three of the Intersection Repairs and spoke with Mark Lakeman co-founder of City Repair, Greg Raisman, the Portland DOT Liason, and scores of residents & volunteers about why they were doing it.
[watch the video]
Monday, February 16, 2009
By Linda Baker - Scientific American Jan 2009
...The idea is that the absence of traffic regulation forces drivers to take more responsibility for their actions. “The more uncomfortable the driver feels, the more he is forced to make eye contact on the street with pedestrians, other drivers and to intuitively go slower,” explains Chris Conway, a city engineer with Montgomery, Ala.
Last April the city converted a signalized downtown intersection into a European-style cobblestone plaza shared by cars, bikes and pedestrians—one of a handful of such projects that are springing up around the country... [more]
For decades, traffic engineer Hans Monderman had a hair-raising way of showing off his handiwork to anyone who took the trouble to visit his native northern Dutch province of Friesland. He would walk backward, arms folded, into the flow of traffic, and without horn-honking or expletives, drivers would slow or stop to let him safely cross to the other side. Monderman's stunt was an act of faith in the concept of "shared space," a radical street-design principle he quietly pioneered in more than 120 projects... Monderman explained that removing signs forces you "to look each other in the eye, to judge body language and learn to take responsibility — to function as normal human beings."
...Monderman long argued that the overuse of signage was due to a misguided culture of risk avoidance among town planners. "Each time someone complains," he told TIME, "something gets added to the system. And no one asks if it's effective." [more]
(To see Hans' stunt, watch videos on right.)
An innovative shared-space design is taking shape in the city’s developing South Lake Union neighborhood.
...The Terry Avenue North street-design guidelines, which cover a six-block stretch linking downtown to Lake Union, radically depart from the standard American approach to traffic design. Instead of segregating vehicles and pedestrians, the project aims to encourage people to share a single travel lane with slow-moving cars. “We’re breaking some conventions here,” says Lyle Bicknell, the city’s urban-design project manager for Terry Avenue North.
Bankrolled by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and his company, Vulcan, the once languishing industrial district is evolving into a world-class mixed-use biotechnology hub...[more]
by Steve Ryan
I see two threads here and below, that are relevant to Ashland:
First, it will take a critical mass of data supporting fewer accidents using shared space, to remove opposition to experimenting with shared space here in Ashland, but, there are enough case studies here on this blog alone, to make a compelling argument that we should at least try shared space here in Ashland, in as controlled a situation as possible, and
Second, I wonder if shared space works best when there are enough pedestrians present so that car drivers have to be careful: Perhaps in a high-pedestrian traffic area like Ashland's plaza/ downtown couplet, there would be enough pedestrians as to make the drivers careful, whereas on a higher-speed strip with fewer pedestrians, say North Main coming into town, we may want to be careful implementing shared space at first, because of the higher vehicle speeds and risk of human life.
But, it does seem Ashland has a very appropriate crucible for an experiment with shared space in our downtown, where vehicle speeds are lower and there are enough peds that drivers will be wary: We should consider experimenting with a shared space model, as there seems to be quite a growing body of evidence shared space can deliver more safety for everyone in appropriate situations.
Many thanks to Mr. Swales for saving us all what looks like many hours in research here; I vote we at least discuss implementing shared space where the existing structural characteristics indicate an appropriate opportunity: the Plaza first, perhaps Siskiyou at SOU if it works on the Plaza (or vice versa?), then perhaps the entire downtown couplet if appropriate: Perhaps a subcomm for the new Transportation Commission?
We should discuss it not as something we should all go read about and think about, but as a real action item, and decide whether we should or should not try it, and by when.
1. What are the salient characteristics of a successful shared space?
2. Are any of those characteristics present in Ashland and if so, where;
3. What would it take to change to a shared space, what are costs, risks/ benefits; does benefit outweigh cost, risk;
4. Set parameters: area, time frame, monitoring, review.
Sitting at the table and saying, "Hmm, that's interesting. Adjourned" may get someone else killed. We should try it, for real, if appropriate, as soon as possible.
Steve Ryan served as one of Ashland's Bicycle/Pedestrian Commissioners and was their liaison to Ashland's Traffic Safety Commission. He co-organized Ashland's Car Free Day Sept. 2008
Saturday, February 14, 2009
In delivering on a commitment to enhanced pedestrian amenity, safety and convenience, the Bendigo has adapted a radical mindset shift from Europe to Australian conditions. Core retail streets in the city centre are being converted, applying the ‘shared space’ approach that essentially makes streets pedestrian spaces that vehicles can enter as subsidiary users. The logic is that ambiguous uncertainty reduces speed, enhances vigilance by drivers and reduces collisions and their consequences. A by-product is greatly enhanced public areas devoted to pedestrians and passive uses.
Prosperity tied to image
It became increasingly apparent that the city’s prosperity was tied to its image, and quality was important for business. One benchmark indicator is the number of dining venues extending into public spaces. By 2008, outdoor venues had risen to 230% of the number licensed in 2000, responding to the climate, enhanced amenity and growing sophistication of the city.
No accidents after road conversion
Norrköpping is a medium size town of some 125,000 inhabitants just south of Stockholm.
Skvallertorget (Gossip Square) is a square in the town centre that five roads lead to.
Used by some 13,500 vehicles, many cyclists and at peak moments as many as 1700 pedestrians a day, it is a busy square...
...The idea was to turn the square once again into a place in which it would be altogether nice to be.
Zebra crossings and superfluous traffic signs were removed and a spacious fountain, nice benches and other street furniture were installed instead.
Those efforts were not without results; since the redevelopment there have been no accidents, mean traffic speeds of 16 to 21 kilometres per hour, road users have become quite satisfied and road safety and liveability increased.
Ashford’s innovative – yet controversial – shared space road scheme is proving something of a trendsetter, with a host of other local authorities now considering travelling down a similar route.The blurring of pedestrian and road space in the newly created Elwick Square was initially met with concerns over safety.It reduces the speed limit to 20mph and gives pedestrians equal priority to those behind the wheel. But it has proved instrumental in breaking the restrictive collar the ring road has had on the town’s development. And now towns and cities across the UK are lining up to follow Ashford’s lead in creating an ambitious shared space scheme. A number have signalled their interest in plans to emulate the Kent town’s radical approach to urban renewal and street design.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
This report presents new research that shows how good street design contributes both economic benefits and public value. It shows that investment in design quality brings quantifiable financial returns and that people value improvements to their streets. It is intended for local authorities, regional government, business, developers and investors. For the first time we can see that the best streets really are paved with gold. Paved with gold is part of a wider CABE programme that provides research, guidance and case studies aimed at promoting high-quality street design.
For more information see www.cabe.org.uk/streets
A new school of traffic design says we should get rid of stop signs
and red lights and let cars, bikes and people mingle together.
It sounds insane...............but it works.
By Linda Baker - Salon.com
It's rush hour, and I am standing at the corner of Zhuhui and Renmin Road, a four-lane intersection in Suzhou, China. Ignoring the red light, a couple of taxis and a dozen bicycles are headed straight for a huge mass of cyclists, cars, pedicabs and mopeds that are turning left in front of me. Cringing, I anticipate a collision. Like a flock of migrating birds, however, the mass changes formation. A space opens up, the taxis and bicycles move in, and hundreds of commuters continue down the street, unperturbed and fatality free.
In Suzhou, the traffic rules are simple. "There are no rules," as one local told me. A city of 2.2 million people, Suzhou has 500,000 cars and 900,000 bicycles, not to mention hundreds of pedicabs, mopeds and assorted, quainter forms of transportation. Drivers of all modes pay little attention to the few traffic signals and weave wildly from one side of the street to another. Defying survival instincts, pedestrians have to barge between oncoming cars to cross the roads.
But here's the catch: During the 10 days I spent in Suzhou last fall, I didn't see a single accident. Really, not a single one. Nor was there any of the road rage one might expect given the anarchy that passes for traffic policy. And despite the obvious advantages that accrue to cars because of their size, no single transportation mode dominates the streets. On the contrary, the urban arterials are a communal mix of automobiles, cyclists, pedestrians, and small businesses such as inner-tube repairmen that set up shop directly in the right-of-way.
As the mother of two young children and an alternative-transportation advocate, I've spent the past decade supporting the installation of ever more traffic controls: crosswalks, traffic signals, speed bumps, and speed limit signs in school zones. But I'd only been in Suzhou a few days before I started thinking that maybe there's a method to the city's traffic madness -- a logic that has nothing to do with the system of prohibition and segregation that governs transportation policy in the United States.
As it turns out, I'm far from the first person to think along these lines. In fact, the chaos associated with traffic in developing countries is becoming all the rage among a new wave of traffic engineers in mainland Europe and, more recently, in the United Kingdom. It's called "second generation" traffic calming, a combination of traffic engineering and urban design that also draws heavily on the fields of behavioral psychology and -- of all subjects -- evolutionary biology. Rejecting the idea of separating people from vehicular traffic, it's a concept that privileges multiplicity over homogeneity, disorder over order, and intrigue over certainty. In practice, it's about dismantling barriers: between the road and the sidewalk, between cars, pedestrians and cyclists and, most controversially, between moving vehicles and children at play.
For the past 50 years, the American approach to traffic safety has been dominated by the "triple E" paradigm: engineering, enforcement and education. And yet, the idea of the street as a flexible community space is a provocative one in the United States, precisely because other "traditional" modes of transportation -- light rail, streetcars and bicycles -- are making a comeback in cities across the country. The shared-street concept is also intriguing for the way it challenges one of the fundamental tenets of American urban planning: that to create safe communities, you have to control them.
"One of the characteristics of a shared environment is that it appears chaotic, it appears very complex, and it demands a strong level of having your wits about you," says U.K. traffic and urban design consultant Ben Hamilton-Baillie, speaking from his home in Bristol. "The history of traffic engineering is the effort to rationalize what appeared to be chaos," he says. "Today, we have a better understanding that chaos can be productive . ..
Thursday, February 05, 2009
...A scheme implemented in London's Kensington High Street, dubbed naked streets in the press—reflecting the fact that the road has been cleared of markings, signage and pedestrian barriers, has yielded significant and sustained reductions in injuries to pedestrians. It is reported that, based on two years of 'before and after' monitoring, casualties fell from 71 in the period before the street was remodelled to 40 afterwards - a drop of 43.7%
Crown Square development top of Matlock's agenda
|Study to unclog Winchester's arteries|
Hampshire Chronicle - Winchester,England,UK
One proposal already on the table is ‘shared space’ where street furniture is removed and pedestrians have more priority over cars.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
16 January 2009
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced today that he has asked Transport for London (TfL) to contribute an additional £10 million to the costs of the improvements being planned to Exhibition Road. .... This funding not only allows much-needed improvements to get underway, but also helps to support the exciting new approach being taken that will make the idea of shared space a key principle in transforming the street into a space that all Londoners and visitors can access and enjoy.” [more]