Monday, November 27, 2017

Shared spaces

The video above from Vox is about a particular type of shared spaces, in this case, intersections where signs and traffic signals have been removed, and paving changed, to make a more freeflowing public space. Auckland has very different shared space solutions, based on streets being shared rather than intersections. Both can work, and have worked—but they are a radical change.

The video talks about the problems people with disabilities, the visually impaired in particular, can face when trying to cross shared spaces. Auckland’s shared spaces have raised bumps to help visually impaired people manage, something that is also put at conventional crosswalks, so they’re familiar to people in Auckland.

I have to admit that when the idea was first proposed around 2004 I thought it was insane. I was sure that people would be run over all the time, and cars would crash into stuff. I was wrong. As a rule, shared spaces tend to be much safer than conventional streets and crossings because, as the video also notes, the visual cues are much different and drivers slow down a lot and drive more carefully, and pedestrians pay more attention.

I think shared spaces are something that definitely takes some getting used to, but I also think they’re very much worth it in the right places. I also think that it’s funny how the way things used to be long ago are actually better suited to the modern world than the systems we developed for it.

At any rate, I really like the shared spaces in Auckland, and I’d never want them to revert back.

Lunch at the Atrium – my post from January about a trip to Elliott Street, a particularly nice shared space.
B&W photo challenge: Day four of seven – My photo in the post from earlier this month was taken on Elliott Street. I was actually sitting down on a bench and enjoying the plaza-like feel of the shared space at the time.


rogerogreen said...

I notice no US examples. Traffic is a zero-sum event here. The traffic circles they've installed are treacherous for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Interesting. If your traffic circles are anything like our roundabouts, I'm surprised they don't work well there, because they work very well here. For pedestrians, there are crossings on the streets entering the roundabout. Cyclists follow the same road rules, including give way rules, as cars. However, cyclists are always at the mercy of drivers, some of whom are seemingly deliberately aggressive toward cyclists. But there, it's how heavy traffic is more than how an intersection is controlled.

rogerogreen said...

Some drivers are hostile to bikes. Bikes don't always follow the rules too, as I've recently noted. And pedestrians, especially those with devices in their hands, are just waiting to be hit.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

One factor that makes it all work here is thay we're used to it. Plus shared spaces ore only streets, not intersections. So far,

rogerogreen said...

One of the reasons driverless cars are not expected to work in NYC for at least 20 years involves the unpredictability of pedestrians and bicyclists.