Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sharing the road

We don't talk about it much at the DfT but...
Three days ago Df(mm)T have published advice on how to share the road (LTN1/11). Concentrating on high street environment, spots over-run by pedestrians could now be transformed.

There are many of those in Newcastle.

Shame the LTN does not mention much about cycling and how it may fit into the sharing streetscape equation. For the love of Places For People I cannot see how that omission could be a good thing. The bicycle is a prime part to civilising public space.

Retrograde brains of council engineers will now have to think for themselves. A thing not likely to happen. I can almost hear the scratching of heads.

Road user re-prioritisationI just wonder which locations Newcastle City Council will consider (suggestions on the right). We have learnt that our streets are haunted by ghosts so dangerous that our children cannot use the street environment (council's road safety initiative 'Ghost Street'). How does a sharing attitude sit comfortably with the council?

In Germany mutual traffic lights help to instill the road-sharing concept at controlled crossings: green lights indicate 'go' for ALL road users travelling in the same direction (walk, cycle, drive). As a driver you simply give way to the walking and cycling public when turning. A radical idea for car-centric UK: giving way, sharing... the road. And on uncontrolled crossings, Highway Code 170 gets frequently ignored by our car-driven friends. Sharing? Doesn't seem to 'come easy'.

What WAS the Df(mm)T's motivation of publishing this shared space document? Are they finally catching up with a 'Streets are for People' idea? Are they making a step towards getting their priorities right? 

Can we bid good-bye to our Land of Bollards and Failing Railings?

And, what will my council make of the LTN? Will they take up Df(mm)T's bitter-sweet offering? Have they got the will, skill and oomph to try something new, something different?

There are more questions than answers, as usual.

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