EARNING A PUBLIC SPACE DIVIDEND IN THE STREETS
– Paul Barter, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, University of Singapore
Abstract: Experiments with shared space or “naked streets” have captured imaginations and considerable media coverage in recent years. Most of the excitement stems from surprise that streets without kerbs, road markings or signage can work well and achieve “safety through uncertainty”. This paper looks at another equally important insight from shared space.
It focuses on a series of innovations that, like shared space, re-arrange the roles of streets in new ways to yield a “dividend” of expanded urban public realm, with little or no loss of transport utility. Such a space dividend should be especially welcome in dense cities that are both congested and short of public space.
What are streets and roadways for? An obvious answer is traffic movement. But that is clearly not the whole story. A second role is to allow the reaching of final destinations— the role we call “access”. Thirdly, streets can be valuable public places in their own right. In addition, moving high-speed motor vehicles differ enormously from movement by low-speed, vulnerable modes such as bicycles. Unfortunately, speedy motor traffic movement and the other roles of streets are in serious conflict. For almost a century, the tension between these roles has been at the heart of debate over street design (Hass-Klau 1990; Jacobs et al. 2002). This article reviews emerging resolutions to this tension.
The Battle for Street Space
Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, in a wide-ranging conversation with Faizal Khan reporting for the excellent Walkability Asia ( Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities), spells out clearly the inevitability of a non-motorised transport code in India through shocking figures and revealing facts. “We need zero tolerance policy for accidents. This menu of action needs support. Our right to walk is not negotiable.” And on this Roychowdhury is entirely right. On this score we must be entirely intransigent and as part of this to keep pounding away on this important point of citizen activism on every available occasion, until we get the concept of zero tolerance written into the law and respected on the streets. All our streets! Continue reading
Although the number of pedestrian trips made daily in Bogotá is high (3,090,809), we observe that there has been little study of the state of these road users in the city; a state defined on occasion by unsafe streets, the invasion of public space, and a poor and deteriorating pedestrian infrastructure, as well as by, among others, the intervention of various public spheres and the improvement of parks and plazas.
This document has resulted from an investigation process, consultation of various sources, and a critical, informative and constructive analysis on the part of its authors and collaborators. The aim is to develop an in-depth analysis that offers both layman and professional audiences profound insights into the difficulties, opportunities, and challenges of pedestrian mobility in the city, as well as generating a number of proposals in order to contribute to public policy that prioritizes pedestrian well-being.
The Highway Code: a collection of laws, advice and best practice for all road users, which mainly functions as a written basis for learning to drive as well as stipulating the letter of the law (licensing, required safety equipment, default rules, etc.) In Europe this happens at a national level, with room in some places for stricter local ordinances. In the US mainly a state prerogative. In all cases the code itself is the creature of the automotive age and is primarily concerned with defining the role and characteristics of motor vehicle driver and owner behavior.
Many European cities are of late starting to advance on the idea of establishing a far tougher “street codes”, specifically adapted to the special and more demanding conditions of driving in city traffic. This is becoming especially important as we start to see a much greater mix of vehicles, speeds and people on the street. If streets are for cars, well this is probably not a priority. But if they are “public spaces” and open to the full range of uses and users, then perhaps something along these lines is called for.
The idea is works is that legal responsibility for any accident on street, sidewalk or public space, is automatically assigned to the heavier faster vehicle. This means that the driver who hits a cyclist has to prove his innocence, as opposed to today where the cyclist must prove the driver’s guilt (not always very easy to do).
This is not quite as good as John Adams’ magnificent 1995 formulation whereby every steering wheel of every car , truck and bus would be equipped with a large sharp nail aimed directly at the driver’s heart– but it can at least help getting things moving in the right direction.
We propose to make this a major campaign theme of World Streets in 2018 and invite our readers to submit their reports, ideas and comments over the course of the months ahead.
If you look over toward the top of the left menu here, you will see that we have opened up a reader poll in an attempt to get your views as well. We also invite comment here on the results.
Some first references:
Livable Streets discussions of Street Code
What is Street Code?
Code de la rue – Belgium (Use Translate here as needed)
Code de la rue – France
Code de la rue – Wikipedia
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Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, mediator and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | http://bit.ly/2Ti8LsX | #fekbritton | https://twitter.com/ericbritton | and | https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbritton/ Contact: email@example.com) | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)
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Enjoy your trip
The following is a brilliant and important exchange on a topic that has a rich double meaning that is really worth getting across our idea-resistant noggins (heads, if you will) once and for all. If you believe that the most universal, the most fundamental, certainly the most responsible, even the noblest form of getting round is when we can make our trips safely by foot (or wheelchair if that is what we need to be independently mobile), than you as a responsible politician, administrator, planner or engaged voter, simply would not even for one minute consider engaging in this kind of folly.
So what you have here is an exchange that got started more than five years, and to which Syed Saiful Alam has so well stated in the last posting in this short series, when he stubbornly repeats “No footover bridges in the name of clean air!!”, “No footover bridges in the name of clean air!!”.
Let’s take their postings in chrono order.
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