Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Shared Space: Turning a Highway into a Public Plaza is Possible

I'm an advocate of the "Shared Space" concept, which began in Europe and could have great promise in the U.S. if traffic engineers would give it a chance. If you don't know about Shared Space, or know about it but are unconvinced, check out this short video. It is a fantastic mini-documentary and the best application of the concept I've seen to date. If this won't convince you of the value of Shared Space nothing will.


  1. The basic principles in this concept appear to be exactly the same as for roundabouts, which means that there are appropriate places for them, and inappropriate places for them. Judging from Baltimore's most recently proposed roundabout at Light Street and Key Highway, as well as the rest of a proposed list from several years ago, the City does not appear to understand the difference. This also explains why there are far too many traffic signals in this city where ordinary stop signs (if not roundabouts) would work far better.

  2. Also remember that shared spaces generally work best when the car volume is under 100 vehicles/hour--so, low- to moderate-traffic environments. Poynton is optimal. Exhibition Road is not.

  3. I think Steve makes a good point - I've heard of a few instances in which pedestrians and bicyclists feel they're crowded out of shared spaces with high vehicular traffic. So I agree that, while the tactic certainly has valuable applications, it still has its limitations in certain settings.

    Gerry, I think they call stop signs the "poor man's roundabouts." ;-)


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