A bold new initiative in London erases boundaries between pedestrian and vehicular traffic

Shared Space Exhibition Road (Source: www.dailymail.co.uk)
The New Shared At Space Exhibition Road, London (source: www.dailymail.co.uk)

London just grew up a little. Or so one hopes.

A radical new initiative has just been implemented at the busy museum-lined Exhibition Road in South Kensington, where all visual as well as physical barriers between pedestrian and vehicular traffic have been removed. For the first time, people are being trusted to behave themselves and share their space on the road – cars, bicycles and pedestrians alike.

Shared Space Exhibition Road London (source: www.dailymail.co.uk)

Shared Space Exhibition Road London (source: www.dailymail.co.uk)
Exhibition Road: Before And After

This is a huge departure from the established norm in transport planning, where drivers are trusted to be (and therefore encouraged to be) selfish, rash and wholely unaccommodating and unminmdful of pedestrians, who in turn, are meant to behave themselves, stick to the very edges of the road and preferably not venture out on foot (or bike) at all. Suddenly, all of these people have been thrown together into one space, meant to be shared. Trust here, is implied – trust in the belief that drivers do not voluntarily want to run down passengers, that accidents happen because drivers do not expect pedestrians to be in what is meant to be ‘their’ space; and that in a space that is shared, drivers will naturally be more mindful of peestrians and bikers.

I could be funny and say this reminds me of traffic in India – where, despite all barriers, pedestrians, drivers, cows, dogs and the occasional cat converge on to the road and fight it out in a constant Darwinian battle, but I won’t. (But I just did, anyway). If Jeremy Clarkson was taken seriously, he would have us believe that that is exactly what’s about to happen on Exhibition Road. But no one does take him seriously (thankfully), so let’s just wait and watch to see whether this bold experiment does succeed.

[All pictures courtesy The Daily Mail]
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