The Idea, with help from Google Maps

The Idea, with help from Google Maps 'Shared Space' is between the two arrows. Apart from that we'll push for segregated cycleways.

I guess people get intimidated by different things. I can ride my bike in the middle of a carriageway with a 48 ton truck behind me and not worry too much, but I really don’t like talking in public meetings. Fortunately the one I started with last week wasn’t too big- just 25 people, some of whom I knew, and the mayor, who is fairly friendly.

After sitting on hot bricks while other traffic problems were discussed, I was able to ask about the high street and this mysterious plan for safety.

Apparently there isn’t one.

This isn’t a problem: on the contrary, it gives us more room for suggestions, so I’m going to meet with the ADFC again, and arrange a meeting with the mayor, to see what we can do.

After some email conversations, I’m wondering if I’ve used the correct term for what we are suggesting: shared space/naked streets in Europe is about taking away signs, paint, and barriers, whereas I’m actually suggesting that the road be flanked by bollards to make the current regular pavement driving impossible, whereas the lack of a kerb would make it easier for bikes and disabled persons to cross the road. I’m hoping that having this ‘porous barrier’ will allow bikes to ride on the road when there is an obstruction, which at the moment they are reluctant to do because once on the road they have to climb up a kerb. This area is the bit between the ends of the cycleways, marked as ‘Shared Space’ on the plan.

The other major difference is the Multiway crossing or ‘Barnes Dance’ on the corner, which also happens to be the main pinch point, that ninety degree curve. I’m not as optimistic as Hans Monderman, creator of shared space, in thinking that drivers are thoroughly responsible and don’t do silly things. On the contrary, I’m with David Hembrow in thinking the evidence suggests that many will ignore others and put their journey before the safety of pedestrians or cyclists. After all, if they didn’t we wouldn’t have the selfish pavement driving we see every day. The idea behind this is that for a short time bikes and people can go through this gap or cross the road in any direction without conflicts with cars, which makes a strong statement about the road belonging to the people.

Another idea is that we could block off some roads in the housing areas to cars and make others one way for cars, but not bikes, to avoid drivers sidling around the centre, and further encourage people to walk or ride.

I know, it’s a pretty ambitious set of ideas for a town that discussed a 100m cycleway for eight years, but we’re going to try. If anyone has suggestions or ideas, or if we’ve missed something important, please let me know.