What makes a really good street? While designers and the public alike agree that the best streets are accessible, attractive, safe and interesting, controversy still surrounds the issues of demarcation between carriageway and footway, decluttering, segregation and shared spaces – and designers’ initiatives are not always popular – or of the highest priority – with street users.
See what you think of our experts’ views: and let us know if you agree or not…and listen to and view more presentations from this event and others
Streets work on complex organisational principles, yet in an attempt to reduce car dominance, traffic engineers and urban designers are moving away from highly engineered, tightly regulated and expensively controlled streets that segregate different classes of users, and are instead creating spaces that facilitate integration and a mix of activities. Although demonstrably successful in terms of civic benefit and road safety, shared spaces and shared surfaces remain particularly controversial.
A new language, and new sets of definitions, are emerging to describe these new streets: low speed areas, transition zones, visual narrowing. Sadly, however, these evolving principles are not yet commonly understood across the ranks of traffic engineers, urban designers, landscape architects, policy makers and street users.
As the design movement for less highly regulated streets gains acceptance across the UK – more than 120 local authorities across the UK are planning to implement what they call a ‘shared space’ scheme in the near future – design, scale, implementation, safety and cost remain hotly debated issues that were candidly and independently explored in this innovative event.