Eleven people were injured yesterday in Exhibition Road, London, in what was at first thought to be a terrorist incident with a police response accordingly. But it now seems very likely to simply have been a road traffic accident.
Exhibition Road is a “shared space” scheme where the pedestrianised part of the road is indistinguishable from the vehicular carriageway. This is particularly problematic for a road where there are many tourists present who may not be familiar with traffic direction in London, or the road.
It is worth repeating an article that we published back in 2012 on the dangers of this road design:
Exhibition Road Shared Space Scheme
There was recently a demonstration against the shared space scheme in Exhibition Road, Kensington, organised by Gordon Taylor. This took place very near the spot where a 71 year old pensioner was struck by a vehicle and suffered severe head injuries.
You can see the problem with this road in the above photograph. The pedestrian section is to the left, and the vehicular road is to the right, but you can see there is no clear demarcation.
Blind people have particular concerns because there is minimal tactile demarcation between road and pavement and guide dogs may not differentiate and hence get confused.
(Note: We are not in principle opposed to “shared space” schemes where traffic volumes are reasonably low and the design is done so as to avoid confusion to drivers and pedestrians. This is clearly not the case here. It looks pretty, but is in essence dangerous and dysfunctional. It is also enormously expensive in relation to the potential benefits when a simpler, cheaper scheme would have been more appropriate).
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