Shared Surface Praised

February 4, 2010

Shared surfaces are receiving a lot of press within the access field and its usually not good, as visually impaired people often feel vunerable.

Official reports say that the shared surface scheme in Ashford, in which signs and traffic lights were removed, has not led to any injuries. The scheme was designed to give drivers, cyclists and pedestrians equal priority was finished in November 2008 and cost £15.6million.

Many groups including those for visually impaired people have heavily criticised the scheme. However, Ashford’s Joint Transportation Board has been told that there have been no personal injury accidents in the first year of the scheme’s operation. They also heard that vehicle speeds had been cut from 30mph to an average of 21.5mph since the scheme was introduced.

A spokes person of Ashford’s Future, a partnership of local councils, government agencies and others from the public and private sector, said it had exceeded all expectations, and went on to say, ‘It has made our town centre attractive and accessible, it’s playing a vital role in unlocking the development potential of Ashford and above all it has improved road safety.’

Urban designer Ben Hamilton-Baillie, who was involved in the scheme, said other British towns and cities were now looking to introduce some form of shared space.

My own personal opinion is there is a lot more work to be done on shared surfaces, because at the moment they do not work for visually impaired people.