Britons Move Towards A New Era of "Civilized Street Design"

Designers and "movement specialists" in Great Britain are pioneering various street designs that aim to bring traffic speeds down to teens, which they claim is the speed range that allows vehicles to safely share a space with pedestrians.
December 6, 2010, 1pm PST | Emily Laetz
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In Britain, a movement is underway to make the streets become "civilized." Hamilton-Baillie Associates, a firm from Bristol, has taken the concept of shared-space streets - an idea that had largely been implemented in small town settings - and transplanted it into the heart of London. Design strategies such as visually-interesting paving patterns, sidewalks that are level with the street, and diagonal street crossings have thus far been successful in cutting down automobile-pedestrian collisions, according to a report by The New Urban Network's Philip Langdon.

"Maybe it's a reflection of American car culture. Or maybe it's a sign of how risk-averse the United States has become. Whatever the reason, the US is a long way from catching up to Europe in designing streets that allow the flexible, unchoreographed mixing of cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians."

"A recent presentation by Ben Hamilton-Baillie at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, highlighted how far Europe, and especially Great Britain, have gone toward letting motorists and pedestrians sort things out for themselves rather than having traffic engineers impose a strict order on circulation."

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Published on Monday, December 6, 2010 in New Urban Network
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