Are Capital’s shared space schemes increasing vehicle speeds?

LRSC Exhibition Road shared space

The Government is being urged to investigate whether there is a connection between the removal of pedestrian crossings and an increase in speeding vehicles.

Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE, a long-time campaigner against shared space, has made the call on the back of figures showing the average speed of vehicles using a shared space scheme on Exhibition Road in London has increased by 5mph over the past six years.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea statistics show the average speed of vehicles along the stretch of road in South Kensington is now 27mph – up from 22mph in 2013.

A nine-time Paralympic swimming gold medalist, Lord Holmes – who has been blind since the age of 14 years – published a report on shared space schemes in 2015, describing the concept as a ‘planning folly’.

Lord Holmes told “I have been arguing for years that removing controlled crossings and pavements and forcing toddlers and tankers, buses and blind people to ‘share’ the same space is an absolute disaster.

“To now learn that the average speed of vehicles along Exhibition Road has increased to a lethal 27mph is absolutely shocking.

“I am calling on the Government to investigate the connection between this deadly street design and increased vehicle speeds and also why speed limits are not being enforced.”

Shared space schemes – where features such as kerbs, road surface markings, designated crossing places and traffic signs are removed – have been introduced in a number of town centres in recent years.

Shared space is intended to create a safer road environment – based on the theory that drivers will reduce their speed because of uncertainty over who has priority.

However, shared space is not without controversy, with concerns regularly raised about how the schemes adversely affect the safety of blind and disabled pedestrians.

In July 2018, the Government told local authorities to pause the development of shared space schemes while it reviews and updates its guidance – before relaxing this advice the following month.

28 February 2019