Monday, 13 June 2011

Yellow Non-Peril

Well, the Southend Regeneration at Victoria Circus is living up to the pessimistic guesses of the locals.

The flow of traffic is notably not lessened or smoothed by the removal of the roundabout, and the original architect's plan for a sweeping expanse of smooth paving has rubbed up against the hard reality that 'shared space' (where cars, buses and pedestrians are not separated by clear divisions such as roads and pavements) in a tourist town is a bit of a bad idea.

So the council's solution is....well, see for yourself:



"Well, that wasn't on the artist's impression, Quentin!"

Yup, in order to ensure that visiting tourists (and the drunks, druggies and dropouts that flock to Southend in good weather) don't walk under a bus or taxi, because they aren't expecting those giant bollards and slight change in paving colour to be the demarcation of the road, the council has seen fit to plaster the area with yellow 'Warning!' notices.

Looks lovely, doesn't it?



Do they?

And see the little man in the hi-vis jacket? Yup, you guessed it. He and his fellows (I counted two others when I took the snaps) are there to guide the people away from danger (by shouting 'OI!' at top volume to any hapless pedestrian about to disappear under a bus).

How long will they be there? Who knows - how long will the 'shared space' idea be a danger to seasonal visitors?

So, it's been a nice little job creation scheme for the council. And not much else.

18 comments:

Uncle Badger said...

There's a similar madness at work in Ashford, Kent. It's a terrifying experience to be either a driver or a pedestrian as a consequence.

Of course, town planning has long been a favoured occupation of the loonie Left - a place where they can play their social engineering games while we pick up the cost - not to mention the stretchers.

Now the watermelons are at it, too, heaven help us all!

James Higham said...

It passes for style in Southend.

Edwin Greenwood said...

One thing that seems to pass unnoticed is that blind people (sorry, the visually impaired™) are dead set against this "shared space" fad. They rely heavily on clear physical markers like kerbs, tactile paving and street furniture to locate themselves safely.

To set out alone with your white stick or your guide dog into the big wide invisible world requires a lot of bottle even with these markers in place. My admiration for these people is unbounded, and I don't begrudge the modest infrastructure expenditure on tactile pavements and the like that has made it easier for them to get about.

To launch yourself into an ill-defined open shared space in the pious hope that a) you are going in more-or-less the right direction and b) drivers will stop, is on another level entirely.

Hogdayafternoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jackart said...

Of course bad implementation makes a good idea seem bad.

There is lots of evidence that shared space, when implemented propely, works well. One belgian town saw accidents fall to Zero when it was implemented.

Queue frothing outrage from a comment thread only rivaled by that of the Daily Mail for sheer unthinking paranoid conservatism. (note 'c' not 'C').

Hogdayafternoon said...

I'm sure this would work well in Europe - Rome city centre springs to mind, in fact any Italian city centre. They love this sort of challenge. I can picture it now, scores of Vespas with 3 or more passengers (incl family dog) thereon (the rearmost usually facing backwards) buzzing into a huddle in the middle, much blue smoke, forehead smacking and arm waving, followed by an `honours even` exit in various directions. Rarely fatal.

Uncle Badger said...

Or maybe, Jackart, we judge from personal experience of how things really are, rather than how theory says they should be - one of the tell-tale differences between an open mind and one slammed shut by dogma.

Hexe Froschbein said...

Isaiah 11:6
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.

Council 11:6:2011
The bus shall dwell above the pedstrian, and the blind walker shall lie down under the lorry, and the bike, and the scooter and the rusty car crash together; and a little child in a fluorescent bib shall lead them.

Woman on a Raft said...

If I could go back in time I'd go to the early 80s and buy shares in a block-paving producer. I'd be a miwl-yon-aire by now.

Shinar's Basket Case said...

Uncannily enough I'm in Northern Germany as I write and went sightseeing today...in a market square that is 'Shared Space'.

Almost got hit by a tram!

Oh I see, Jacktard our Air Punching Cyclist has posted...

Well the part of Germany I'm at the moment is pretty much a part of Holland when it comes to cycling. Nearly everyone cycles locally and it is awful! You can't walk on the pavements here because the cyclists treat them as 'shared space' and won't stay in the cycle lanes that are marked on all pavements, that 'steal' half the pavement from the pedestrians. Driving is difficult because cyclists will just dart across the road at a moments notice. No exaggeration in the week I've been here I have come close to hitting a cyclist at least 5 times and each time he would have been at fault.

The UK Cyclista's moan and lobby for more cycle paths and parrot their 'litany' of 'but in Holland'. but the reality of the Netherlands looks very different.
hopefully UK town planners will stop insisting on favouring cyclists to the detriment of all other road users cos just try walking around any dutch town....it's a nightmare.

Single acts of tyranny said...

You know that the muppets with their miniscule power in hi-vis yellow vests secretly want Brown shirts and the job of Gaulieter

Mjolinir said...

O/T - and not UK - but I couldn't resist this "Feeble excuse of the week/ month/ year" - when caught in Switzerland at 300kph (180mph - 2 1/2 times the speed limit) in a Mercedes SLS -

//"I think the speedo on the car, which is new, is faulty," he told police by way of an explanation.//

Possible penalty? 650,000 gbp (Yup - a million Euros)Over there such fines are calculated on an earning x speed basis)...

http://tinyurl.com/37qux9f

JuliaM said...

"Of course, town planning has long been a favoured occupation of the loonie Left..."

And like their social experiments, they always work so well in computer modelling, and then fail when people are introduced into the mix.

"It passes for style in Southend."

Sadly true! :)

"One thing that seems to pass unnoticed is that blind people (sorry, the visually impaired™) are dead set against this "shared space" fad. "

Absolutely! They've already voiced their concerns over the removal of the audible crossing signals in favour of a 'spin disc' version, apparently over concerns of 'noise pollution'.

And been totally ignored, of course.

"There is lots of evidence that shared space, when implemented propely, works well. One belgian town saw accidents fall to Zero when it was implemented."

Well, two things.

First, this isn't Belgium, and the idea that something that might work on the European mainland will - of course! why not? - work here is a bit of a stretch.

Secondly, how do you resolve the problem that this is a tourist town, so will get lots of unfamiliar visitors? Not to mention the disability problems that Edwin mentions.

It'd be interesting to see how Belgium tackled at least the latter, if not the first.

JuliaM said...

"...Rome city centre springs to mind, in fact any Italian city centre. They love this sort of challenge."

It'd provide many, many 'YouTube moments', I suspect!

"...we judge from personal experience of how things really are, rather than how theory says they should be..."

Spot on! Those theories often don't survive contact with the real world.

"Council 11:6:2011
The bus shall dwell above the pedstrian, and the blind walker shall lie down under the lorry, and the bike, and the scooter and the rusty car crash together; and a little child in a fluorescent bib shall lead them."


/applause

"If I could go back in time I'd go to the early 80s and buy shares in a block-paving producer. I'd be a miwl-yon-aire by now."

Oh, my first thought too when I saw it in all it's glory. Mind you, there's still time to get in on the next one!

JuliaM said...

"...in the week I've been here I have come close to hitting a cyclist at least 5 times and each time he would have been at fault. "

You need practice..? ;)

"You know that the muppets with their miniscule power in hi-vis yellow vests secretly want Brown shirts and the job of Gaulieter"

The ones I've seen have been bored out of their skulls and mostly talking to each other, rather than watching the 'road'. Luckily, they lack the energy to be little dictators.

"... I couldn't resist this "Feeble excuse of the week/ month/ year" - when caught in Switzerland at 300kph.."

Well, 10 out of 10 for cheek! :)

Roots Hall said...

But... but... where will the yellow lines go?

Then again, maybe drivers can park anywhere in it/on it.

(Cultural note: covering all of Sahfend with tarmac is not the answer)

Mjolinir said...

@Roots Hall - //covering all of Sahfend with tarmac is not the answer//

No- but it's a very good question.

PS - Re Isiaih - "The wolf will lie down with the lamb" - but only one of them will get much sleep.

Paul said...

As a person with very poor vision I'd just like to concur with most of the people here to point out that, yes indeedy, "shared space" bollocks is the bane of blind and partially sighted people's lives. We need "borders", separators, and the like. We need to be able to see things - the ludicrosity of shared space robs us of all our markers and thus, confidence. We can't tell between an area for cars an area that isn't.

It's an insane fad that helps nobody. Consign it to the dustbin where it belongs, please.