Road Safety News

Bodmin residents back ‘shared space’ scheme

Monday 10th August 2015

Plans to introduce a shared space scheme to improve cycle and pedestrian provision in the Cornish town of Bodmin have been given the thumbs up by almost two thirds of people who attended a recent exhibition.

Under the proposals road signs, traffic lights and markings would be removed, the highway narrowed and footways widened.

A recent report by Lord Holmes of Richmond described the concept of ‘shared space’ as a “planning folly” and called for “an immediate moratorium on all shared space schemes until thorough impact assessments can be conducted”.

Bodmin residents, councillors and businesses took the opportunity to comment on the plans which were unveiled during a two day exhibition in June. Of the 433 people polled at the exhibition, 64% said they were in favour of “improvements to cycle and pedestrian provision in the town”.

Since then Cornwall Council staff have met with disability awareness charities and Bodmin Town Council to gain their views on the proposals. People also had the opportunity to comment on the plans during the four-week consultation which coincided with the start of the exhibition.

Councillor Steve Rogerson, Cornwall Council Local Member for Bodmin St Petroc, said: “Bodmin is at the heart of Cornwall and now it has the chance to benefit from being at the heart of cycling in Cornwall.

“The creation of the cycle routes will not only lead to benefits from tourism, they will also provide easier cycling journeys for residents to school and to work. The result should be less pollution and a safer, healthier, environment.”

Work has now begun to adapt the proposals in light of comments made during the consultation and the project team is working with the charity, ISight Cornwall to ensure the plans take into consideration the needs of people who are blind or partially sighted. 

A further public exhibition to unveil the final designs is due to take place shortly before construction work on the various schemes start in December 2015. Works are scheduled to be complete by spring 2017.


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The roads in Bodmin are pretty narrow already, the cyclists pay little attention to highway code as it is and pedestrians will be thinking they own the road so I can see it being a nightmare causing more congestion along an already busy road. It would be better if they reduced the amount of road crossings building a pedestrian crossing over the road and make sure people use it this would help traffic flow better. I can see only problems.
Ian, Bodmin

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

If five minutes on Google represents the sum of the evidence base for a position statement on a subject this complex then frankly I despair. Come on - let's start with the evidence and let it inform our opinion - rather than seeking out only what supports our existing views.
Jeremy, Devon

Agree (6) | Disagree (4)

It's a really big IF though isn't it Honor? If five minutes on Google can throw up a significant amount of contrary evidence then it rather calls into question the throughness of the research.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (10) | Disagree (9)

(Other than the comment reference to which I took exception) every point Duncan and Derek have made is valid - none of which conflict with what I originally said: Shared space can work in particular, appropriate situations provided it is thoroughly researched and properly implemented.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (9) | Disagree (6)

The Haren experience is worth further investigation, and the majority seem to feel it is far from a success: This is an extensive review with many comments from locals.

The Poynton scheme for their busy road junctions may appear contrarily to work, but whilst the video indicates a rousing success, the junction as was, was clearly busy, inadequate in layout, and due for a change.

John Adams short piece asks: Where and when is shared space safe? And there are some real concerns for the partially sighted, those with guide dogs and the deaf:
Guide Dogs for the Blind also have real concerns, as their investigations and reports show:,%20Carol%20and%20Clive%20Wood-%20Shared%20Space%20Safe%20Space.pdf

If one is in favour of a project, it will be claimed to work. Bodmin does not equate to Poynton, nor does it directly relate to Haren. Good intentions, can promote bad ideas. They involve financial resources, and are seldom reversed when found wanting.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

Not my quote Honor, but one from a well regarded review of the shared space concept.

There are also a great deal of other studies and observations that the idea of the shared space only works in a very limited set of circumstances and even then it is not the universal panacea that it's supporters think it is. There is particular disquiet about them from the cycling lobby along with much negative comment from groups representing blind and elderly road users. There is also the finding in your own Road Safety Observatory that "most pedestrians divert away from their desire lines, give way to vehicles and felt safer under the original layout". It even goes on to say that "some of the claims made on behalf of shared space have overstated the available evidence".

There is also the issue that Bodmin is a tourist destination unlike Haren in the Netherlands which is a place nobody has ever heard of let alone wants to visit. The two locations are simply not comparable so what might work in one might not work in the other.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (10) | Disagree (7)

Come on Duncan, nowhere have I advocated that "dangerous is very safe" and nor do the shared space guidelines do so. They refer to an “uncertainty factor”. This is twisting what this item covers and what I have said beyond reasonable argument. The selection of where this approach is considered; the detailed design; considerations of usage; and implementation with appropriate engineering measures and materials and safety audit that must consider all users are all part of the process. This cannot be done “on the cheap” or in half measures – you either do it properly or you don’t do it at all, but it can work and also provide a safer environment when installed in the right situation with care and careful planning as the evidence from Haren clearly shows.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (10) | Disagree (4)

Honor, maybe this passage from the paper Shared Space: Safe or Dangerous? might help.

"The proposition that ‘dangerous is very safe’ or worse, the introduction of danger to incite safe behaviour, is disputable and brings along unacceptable risks for those that have limited traffic abilities or make wrong risk assessments."
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (7) | Disagree (18)

I have witnessed shared space on some streets within central London, and the foremost thought amongst most pedestrians is that they are in a pedestrian precinct - when they are not. Once the road becomes indistinguishable from the pavement by being at the same level with no clear demarcation, pedestrians, and especially children are at risk. This in my personal experience appears to be doubly so where foreign tourists are present. Drivers have to be extremely alert to avoid confrontation at any speed including walking speed, and cyclists were found to be weaving around just about everywhere. Many pedestrians will see shared space as being something given back. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are being given rope!

Once shared space is introduced, there comes the danger of two standards. The one is where the road network has clear definitions and demarcations with rules for behaviour for all enabling shared usage of all types of traffic on the highways - pedestrian and wheeled in their respective zones – road; pavement. This makes for a degree of safety for pedestrians, and likewise a space for the more efficient movement of vehicles.

Shared space throws all the players into the same pot – a new standard where rules are what exactly? - and each will claim their individual space, and double standards double the problems. No egg-sucking, this is commonsense being denied. The folly of those pedestrians who treat shared space as something that belongs or has been given back to them, is possibly reflected in the 64% of the 433 attendees at said recent exhibition. Sounds like a nice idea. It’s an unexploded bomb. In some countries, and with some cultures it will work. We drive on the left, and can easily adapt to driving on the right when abroad. It does not follow that we would or should drive on the right in the UK. Our infrastructure and culture make it a step too far, likewise with shared space.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (11) | Disagree (9)

Your response is instinctive but the evidence shows that these shared spaces can and do work in the situations I described. The original Haren scheme has been in place for years and is well evaluated, for an overview see:

Going from the illustration I disagree - this is exactly what a shared space looks like. They will differ from place to place and so they should, to accommodate local factors, usage, materials and identity. Just because it doesn't tick every box on someone's list doesn't mean it isn't shared space - see the link above for how Haren has evolved. There have to be construction and design standards but they are mainly guidelines and we shouldn't get too hung up on the detail and thereby lose sight of the overall aim.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (8) | Disagree (3)

As I cannot open the report I have to take this article on what I can see. Honor, you are right about the removing the definition between vehicle and pedestrian space creating a shared space. This article only refers to narrowing the highway and widening the footway and nothing I can see on removing the defining lines. This makes the scheme a decluttering of signals and signs and markings and returning some of the space back to pedestrians from vehicles. This is not really a shared space but a public realm improvement.
Peter Westminster

Agree (13) | Disagree (2)

The 'intrinsic uncertainty factor' has another name Honor and it's called gambling! The false assumption is made that by increasing the uncertainty in a system people will take more care (whatever that means) in the methods they employ to resolve that uncertainty. The whole point about in-built uncertainty however is that outcomes will always be uncertain and will remain uncertain irrespective of the actions of anybody using the system. Outcomes that happen as the result of one set of circumstances at one time may be entirely different the next time similar circumstances occur. This is evidenced with a simple coin toss where the next toss is not affected in any way by the previous one.

It is very much in doubt that other safety critical industries such as aviation and nuclear would want to increase the uncertainty within their systems as they spend most of their time trying to do the exact opposite! Imagine the fun that could be had if the action of a switch was uncertain especially if that switch controlled the lowering of the undercarriage on your holiday jet for example!

No, this shared-space idea is just plain daft as well as being dangerous and anybody that's even in the slightest bit interested in road safety should avoid it like the plague.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (11) | Disagree (19)

At the risk of teaching some of you to suck eggs, shared space schemes are one option for low speed multi use locations where one of the main desires is to redress the balance and priority between vehicles and pedestrians/cyclists. They are designed to achieve this through re-engineering the street scene to remove the clear definition between vehicle space and pedestrian space and instead create a single shared space. The intrinsic uncertainty factor is one aspect that contributes to pedestrians taking care to look out for vehicles and for drivers to do the same for pedestrians.

Shared space is not intended for higher speed roads, roads where vehicle distribution and throughput are the higher priority. Therefore it isn’t, simplistically, that one approach is universally right and the other is wrong – it’s about appropriate, tailor made design for specific places and uses.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (23) | Disagree (10)

"Shared space" presents an interesting challenge to ideas of human behavour in road safety. Having removed the "rules", shared space relies upon the vast majority of people being naturally careful, considerate and safe. If this were not true, shared spaces would have intolerably high collision rates.

But here's the puzzle. Most road safety initiates are based on the opposite view of human behavour. More rules are imposed and those rules are rigidly enforced using a mass prosecution system. This idea presumes that the vast majority of people are naturally careless, inconsiderate or unsafe.

Surely both ideas cannot be true? What would be useful is if each concept of human behavour were tested within scientific trials. The results of such trials could advance the knowledge of how road safety really works in ways as yet unknown. And that could really save lives.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (10) | Disagree (10)

And the Judas Goat leads Lambs to the slaughter.

The depicted computer graphic shows what may well be the junction of Crinnicks Hill, Priory Rd. and Dennison Rd. The existing layout as seen on Google Maps shows a conventional road layout with road and pavement clearly defined, shrubs, a pedestrian area, and pedestrian refuge in the centre of the road. As with any road junction there is room for accidents to occur between pedestrians and other traffic, but defined as it is each should know their safe places.

In an open shared space the definition is lost, and the chance for conflict between road users increases. I wonder how much spin has been put on the scheme for 433 Bodmin residents to swallow.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (14) | Disagree (5)

Reducing the predictability in a system increases the opportunity for error.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (18) | Disagree (10)