Compare and contrast

Exhibition Road –

Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 10.57.00Exhibition Road –

The top picture is taken from this flyer, advertising a talk given by Ben Hamilton-Baillie, entitled New Directions in Street Design, Safety and Movement. It was taken in early August last year, when the street was closed to motor vehicles for the Exhibition Road Show (more pictures here).

The bottom picture was taken by me at the same location, just over a month later, in September 2012, when the road was open to motor traffic, as it usually is.

It nearly always looks like this, particularly during the day.

IMG_1007 IMG_1009I don’t know who was responsible for choosing that picture on the flyer. Nevertheless it is surely more than a little misleading to select an image taken when there were no motor vehicles present at all to illustrate how shared space street design can ‘reconcile traffic movement with the quality of public space’ – because, quite obviously, there was no motor ‘traffic movement’ on the days in question.

From the description of the talk

Ben Hamilton-Baillie, one of the UK’s leading practitioners in street design and placemaking is coming to Leeds Met to deliver a lecture on current thinking, practice and issues surrounding traffic movement and the concept of shared space.

The need to reconcile traffic movement with the quality of public space in cities, towns and villages is widely recognised.  We all use public or pivate transport to move around and we all want beautiful and safe places to live and work in.  Shared space is one approach to resolving this issue, with a number of high profile schemes (eg Exhibition Road, Kensington and Ashford Ring Road in Kent) being delivered over the past decade where principles have been put into practice and from which experience has been gained.

What Exhibition Road actually demonstrates is that ‘traffic movement’ cannot genuinely be reconciled with ‘quality of public space’ without a considerable reduction in the amount of that traffic composed of motor vehicles.

The use of that picture on the flyer amounts to an implicit admission of the very same thing. 

Lengthier analysis of Exhibition Road from me here

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5 Responses to Compare and contrast

  1. Greg Collins says:

    Yep. Shared space only works when traffic speed and traffic volumes are reduced. Of course, there is an argument that by reducing speed motor transport becomes less attractive and alternative modes more so.

  2. Paul M says:

    Which is why I think Roupell St, Waterloo, works as shared space while Exhibition Rd, Kensington doesn’t work as Shared Space (caps intentional). Former keeps motor traffic under control, latter doesn’t.

  3. Lorenzo says:

    1. I never fully understood the thinking behind this (Exhibition Road) scheme. Some turns have been banned (mostly at the junction with Cromwell Road/ Cromwell Gardens) and a new right turn from Queensgate southbound onto Cromwell Road westbound has been introduced, but the road is still still very busy and motor traffic dominiates. The picture in the flyer is duplicitous/ misleading.

    2. At the foot of your post I’m seeing an advert for a Toyota Yaris.

  4. Jim Moore says:

    Is it too harsh/early to equate B H-B and Shared Space with John Forester and Vehicular Cycling? The deception portrayed in the flyer would seem to indicate it isn’t.

  5. Don says:

    I visited the Natural History Museum yesterday and experienced this ‘new’ shared space myself for the first time. The claim that it is ‘shared’ is a flat out lie. It is simply a road, with traffic lights, double yellow lines and pavements either side, just like any other road. The only difference is the fancy paving. What an expensive piece of bullsh*ttery, if that’s a real word..

    As David Arditti (I think) has already pointed out, the only bit that really works as shared space is the very short section across the road from the Ismaeli centre, which appears to be for access only. You may as well call that a pedestrianised area, since that is how it seems to operate.

    If the rest of the road is supposed to be a good example of shared space, then shared space is a con trick.

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