End of the road for controversial shared space schemes

Photo Emma mitchell 4.4.17'Shares space
Photo Emma mitchell 4.4.17'Shares space

The divisive shared space at Kirkintilloch town centre may have to be redesigned.

The UK government has signalled the end of the controversial road layouts because of concerns they are too dangerous for large 
numbers of pedestrians.

A report published by the Department for Transport has called on councils to suspend the roll-out of the schemes after widespread complaints.

It follows a rise in the number of shared space projects that seek to declutter streets by removing barriers, kerbs, road markings and traffic signs, including the layout at Cowgate, which thousands of people have protested against.

The shared space design was intended to create a less intimidating environment for pedestrians. The theory is drivers will reduce their speed because of uncertainty over who has priority.

However, a review published this week acknowledged many people had “significant concerns”. It said groups representing visually impaired people expressed concern that ‘shared space’ schemes were dangerous and difficult to navigate.”

The strategy said local councils should “pause the development of shared space schemes” pending update of guidelines. The move raises the prospect that streets already overhauled will have to be redesigned when the new guidance is published.

Vice Convener of Place, Neighbourhood and Corporate Assets, Susan Murray said: “The new layout of Kirkintilloch Town Centre has been met with a mixed response and following a public consultation on the issue, the Council agreed to further monitor the changed layout on Catherine Street for a period of 18 months.

“During this time, traffic levels, driver behaviour and pedestrian experiences are being assessed and vulnerable groups are being supported to familiarise themselves with the new layout.

“A new light assisted pedestrian crossing will be installed on Cowgate outside the former Greggs in response to concerns raised.

“All information gathered during the monitoring period and any changes in UK legislation will be considered at a future meeting of the full Council in 2019.

“It is important for us to take the time needed to make sure that the right changes are made so everyone feels welcome.”