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Shared Space - Final evaluation and results

Fryslân Province, Shared Space

Shared Space defines a set of integrated ideas about people, movement and public space. In this evaluation some of the pilot projects are reviewed.

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Shared Space defines a set of integrated ideas about people, movement and public space. It is an idea that seems particularly relevant to its time. The role of cities, towns and villages is changing rapidly. We no longer require urban centres for obtaining goods and services, or for information and exchange. Out-of-town stores, the internet and other developments mean that town centres are no longer an essential part of life.

Instead, urban and rural places fulfil deeper human needs as means to interact, to form social bonds, and to express civic values and beliefs. This change has profound implications for public space. It means it is no longer sufficient to merely rely on the functional capacity of roads and streets as a means to transport goods and people. Streets and public spaces have assumed a critical economic and social role in attracting people and investment. This change requires us to rethink the way in which we design, manage and maintain the public realm, and how to ensure wider control and responsibility for the local community.

The support from the Interreg IIIB North Sea programme has provided opportunities to test
the principles of Shared Space in a wide range of urban and rural contexts, and to generate transnational exchange of knowledge between five countries and seven municipalities. It has also facilitated understanding of Shared Space across the rest of Europe and much of the rest of the world through the unusually high levels of publicity generated. As a result, Shared Space is now an established set of principles in many countries.

The project has prompted a wide range of additional areas for research and investigation. Issues of traffic speeds, and the means to control them, lie at the heart of improving safety, enhancing urban quality, and encouraging greater participation in, and access to, the public realm. This is particularly important for children, for elderly people, and for those with physical or visual disabilities. Above all, the Shared Space programme has encouraged interest in new processes and structures for public engagement and for the relationship between different areas of professional expertise. The complexities of human interaction defy simple rules and standardised solutions. Shared Space challenges a number of long-standing assumptions that have defined the treatment of streets for many years. Through the development of the pilot projects, observations of the impact of new approaches can be made, and new lessons learnt for future generations. The European Shared Space project has added significantly to the available body of theory, knowledge and experience of politicians, professionals and the public engaged with improving the built environment and promoting civility.

Design example
Drachten, Drift/De Kaden, shared-space-intersection. The intersection Drift and De Kaden is an example of shared space in the purest sense. Despite a quite high traffic volume hardly any measures have been taken to regulate traffic.     
Design example
Drachten, Laweiplein, shared-space roundabout. Laweiplein is one of the best-known examples of shared space at a busy intersection. By regulating as little as possible, traffic participants would be encouraged to assume more responsibility for their own behaviour. Laweiplein has drawn national and international attention from traffic engineers and others.
Design example
Haren, Rijksstraatweg, mixed profile. In the nineteen eighties Rijksstraatweg was used as an experimental project for traffic safety. National authorities provided the funds to construct separate bike paths. Currently Rijksstraatweg is renowned as an exemplary shared-space project. The bike paths have been demolished.
Municipality of Emmen (NL), Province of Fryslân (NL), Municipality of Haren (NL), Municipality of Bohmte (G), Suffolk County Council (UK), Municipality of Middelfart (DK), City of Ostend (B) , Interreg IIIB project Shared Space
Shared Space is a simple phrase. It was coined at the outset of the Interreg-project, providing both a title and a broader vocabulary with which to address a complex set of issues arising across the European Union. Largely as a result of the project, the phrase is now widely used and recognized around the world. In common with all language, the meaning of the term ‘Shared Space’ is evolving as experience is gained and knowledge expands.

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