In order to change the appearance of our city and to increase safety at the same time, we are starting to reach out for solutions used in Western Europe. This is not because our eyes are strictly fixed on that part of our continent but because we are willing to introduce solutions which have proved to be successful. We already presented you with the living-street (woonerf) idea, so this time we thought we’d tell you about the shared space road junction.
What is shared space?
The term gives a brief idea what this concept is about, however some people might still find this slogan a bit mysterious. Previously the term ‘priority for pedestrians’ was used and it was created in 1980 by a Frenchman named Michel Deronzier. The modern name shared space was adopted in 1991 by Tim Pharoah in order to describe streets which were not strictly divided in parts for various types of traffic. It was assumed that the common aim in designing all types of spaces was to increase road safety. Most attention was focused on streets with high levels of pedestrian traffic.
Leveling the playing field
It may seem odd but sometimes the ‘law of the jungle’ takes place on the streets – the bigger some is, the more rights he thinks he deserves. Also if someone is faster than others, he is convinced that all traffic participants should be subordinated to him. Such an approach leads to many dangerous situations. This is why it was decided to change some commonly used road planning schemes. Curbs, divisions into pavements and roadways, expensive traffic lights and traffics signs – all of these elements were removed. The aim was to take away the comfort of so-called ‘memory driving’ (expecting the same signs and traffic conditions while traveling along well-known routes). Drivers who suddenly encountered such junctions started paying attention to pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. The same behavior was observed among cyclists. And what about pedestrians? Being the weakest traffic participants they were given full priority when moving in such spaces.
That’s the aim of our program and series of meetings – to inspire and to show examples of good practice in hope that similar solutions will also be introduced in our city. Two years ago no one would believe that 6 Sierpnia street could be transformed to its present-day state. Perhaps the idea of shared space will also gain popularity in Łódź. Citizens intuitively know that streets don’t have to serve only as parking spaces for cars but can also be important parts of public spaces, especially in city centers. Because we have belief in the wisdom of citizens of Łódź and we are convinced that they are able to pick what is best for them we shall continue presenting and promoting solutions which are widely used in the civilized world.
We encourage you to become acquainted with our publication “A different way – common space”, which is available at ISSUU.COM