25 November 2013

Shared use: ad-hoc and short-sighted

In the past few days, more shared use signs have appeared around the city. Two of these cases are at St Andrew's Square, and on Princes St at the Mound (right).

These are busy streets and the implementation of tram tracks has made them unsafe for cyclists. So cyclists have been put onto the pavement, which seems guaranteed to make pedestrians unsafe instead.

This is not how transport systems should be designed. Nor some of the most iconic streets in a city that lays claim to being a tourist destination and aims to attract international business.

These little bits of non-joined up segments all have different signs, and most users don't recognize or understand them (as I've written about before, and as the recent newspaper stories make even clearer).   These cost-cutting mechanisms simply put cyclists and pedestrians into conflict, and will inevitably generate more anti-cyclist venom (and sell more papers for the local press).  None of them are intuitive or easy to follow.

Declaring spaces to be 'shared' does not make them into 'infrastructure'.  It just makes our streets more fragmented, incoherent and confusing, when we ought to be making them more inviting and pleasant.

These segments are the most egregious because they are on busy pavements that are really not suitable for cycling, but there's more planned elsewhere in the city as well, as I flagged in previous posts.

If I was more cynical, I'd think that the people who run the buses and trams didn't want us on the roads. There's a real irony that at present we have a Transport Leader who claims to want to support pedestrians, but our policies don't reflect that.  To be fair, that's in part because some of this infrastructure was designed three years ago, and a lot has changed since then.  But its also a case of officials wanting to have their cake and eat it too - the political costs of alienating pedestrians are clearly not up on their agenda, while cyclists are tossed a few crumbs to keep them happy.

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