Just step out and Motorists will Screech to a Halt (or kill you)

An excerpt from thetimes.co.uk today on this crazy roadsafety scheme in Kensington and Ashford:-

“Pedestrians are being encouraged to walk out in front of cars and traffic lights have been removed in a unique experiment on Britain’s roads.

Drivers no longer have the right of way on the ring road in Ashford, Kent, and have to negotiate their way across junctions, with no signs or lines to guide them. All road users, whether travelling on foot, by bicycle, car or bus, have equal priority and must use eye contact to decide who goes first.

The town is embracing the concept of “shared space”, which was invented in the Netherlands and is based on the principle that creating uncertainty on the roads makes them safer.

Parts of the concept have already been adopted on a handful of roads in Britain, such as Kensington High Street in West London, where railings have been removed.

But Ashford is the first place to introduce the purest form of shared space, under which traffic lights are considered not only unnecessary but a potential cause of collisions.

The theory is that lights lull people into a false sense of security, meaning that they pay less attention on a green light and fail to notice someone stepping off the pavement.

Four sets of lights have been removed from Ashford’s ring road. The road surface has been relaid with red and grey bricks in a herringbone pattern to remind drivers that they are not on a conventional street. Pedestrians can cross the road wherever and whenever they choose, without waiting for a gap in the traffic.

The speed limit has been reduced to 20mph but there is no plan to enforce it and there are no road humps or chicanes to compel drivers to slow down. Instead, the designers claim will obey the limit because the road width has been reduced to leave vehicles only just enough room to squeeze past each other. Kerbs have also been lowered and the distinction between road and pavement deliberately blurred.

Kent County Council has spent more than £13 million turning a three-lane fast-moving one-way system into a two-way road where the pavement is almost twice as wide as the carriageway. Richard Stubbings, the project manager, said: “We needed to remove the concrete collar which was choking Ashford. We accept it will take a bit of getting used to but we believe that ending segregation between cars and pedestrians will make roads safer and more civilised.” Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said removing traffic lights would create danger and congestion. “Those streets will be reverting to the law of the jungle. There will be road rage, collisions and chaos because no one knows who has priority,” he said.”



This is barmy. Some motorists won’t even stop if you walk across a pedestrian crossing, (which happened to me today), what makes these people who create things think it will work in a country that is where The Car is King, where more powerful and ‘important’ vehicles seem to go first? In a country where drunks regularly take over the road and drivers constantly use their mobile phones? Etc Etc & ETC!! Have they even thought about this for night time driving and cycling?! What about emergency vehicles??

Eyecontact? What about blind people?! Agggh! (I will contact J who works for a Blind Charity)

This harebrained scheme perhaps is designed by a Mad Professor who doesn’t cycle. What about consultations for this scheme? Imagine this scheme on the M25! I wonder what the Kent Police say?

I think it is a way of saving money on traffic lights, signs and railings if you ask me and something to ease congestion for the poor motorists.

More on this story on my links under Times Road Safety Scheme (website category)

And email addy to address your complaints or comments:

Kent County Council



and why did the CTC not do something?

One response to “Just step out and Motorists will Screech to a Halt (or kill you)

  1. They would want to Put big Signs on approach Roads to the Area to Warn Motorists in particular of these changes.

    I would say the Locals will catch on fast but not outsiders. In Theory it is a good thing to Amsterdamize Things. Where I come from the Population already Cross the Road wherever they like in spite of the Mad Traffic . Good Signage will be needed to get the Message across. They would need those Speed Limit Signs to be left up and not taken down.

    This is my New Persona to comment on Velochick. Jack Dublin.

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