Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Don't watch Newsnight on Monday...

...unless you want to risk seeing me talking about Shared Space road design principles. Shared Space is the intriguing idea that traffic management is best handled with as little regulation as possible -- no traffic lights, no road markings, no pavements even -- and it's something I've had my eye on for quite a while as it claims to offer considerable benefits to the more vulnerable users of our roads. Indeed, the approach promises towns in which everybody gets to where they want to go faster and with fewer accidents. It sounds great.

My position, which I hope comes across after the interview is edited, is that Shared Space is a very intriguing idea but that it urgently needs a proper evaluation to tell us whether or not it really works better than the current approach. The problem the Shared Space advocates face is the two curses of road planning. The first curse is that authorities and town planners tend to be very conservative and often won't try new things, sticking to rigid road-design guidelines which are handed down from above and which, in many cases, are essentially based on little more than guesswork.

The second curse is that new developments in road design or usage are hardly ever evaluated properly: when somebody tries something new, it's not often the effect of the innovation is properly measured. So let's have more science and less blind faith: that's my basic argument (and not just as regards road design). BBC 2, 2230 on Monday 14 January.

On a more awe-inspiring note, I entered a great email discussion this morning in which Michael Carley and I decided there really should be a product like Bovril, but pork-based and from Germany. Here's how I imagine the advertising might look...

2 comments:

Karl McCracken said...

Is this available as a clip online? This whole shared space thing has intrigued me for quite a while - I think there's the whole question as to whether or not it's something that suits the Dutch temperament, and would never work here in the heart of Chavdom.

Ian Walker said...

I don't think so. I believe it was on iPlayer for a few days, but that's only temporary. Alas alas.