Shared Space >> Safe Space Meeting the requirements of blind and partially sighted people in a shared space Report prepared by Ramboll Nyvig for Guide Dogs for the Blind Association This report has been prepared by: Ramboll Nyvig: o Jacob Deichmann, arch. MAA, o Bjarne Winterberg, arch. MAA, Danish Building Research Institute: Anette Bredmose The report is prepared for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (Guide Dogs) to contribute to their research project on shared surfaces. The first part of Guide Dogs research concluded September 2006 with the publication of a report on the results of focus groups in the UK. This showed that the safety, confidence and independence of blind and partially sighted people, and other disabled people, are undermined by shared space schemes which are implemented with shared surfaces. www.guidedogs.org.uk/sharedsurfaces This report is part of the next stage of Guide Dogs research project, to develop and test potential design approaches that will meet the requirements of blind and partially sighted and other disabled people. The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the policy and views of Guide Dogs. The design approaches will be tested with blind and partially sighted and other disabled people, and Guide Dogs recommendations will be based on test results. Diagrams are illustrative. Contents 1.0 Introduction What is the problem? 1. Legal aspects 2. The safe space concept - definition 2.0 Design solutions 2.1 Reintroduction of the kerb 1. Standard upstand kerb – how can it work as shared space 2. Kerb with 3 cm upstand 3. Kerb with sloping top 2.2 Tactile division between safe space and shared space 1. Uneven area 2. Central delineator strip 2.3 Centrally located guidance path 2.4 Crossings signalised/non-signalised 1.0 Introduction - What is the problem? Photo - Picture of a shared surface street Traditionally our streets have been designed to segregate pedestrians and other road users, generally through the provision of a footway running parallel to the carriageway. The shared space concept has been devised as an alternative to that approach. In its application the concept is often typified by shared surfaces where kerbs and controlled crossings are removed. Although shared space schemes have been developed which retain kerbs and crossings, for example, Kensington High Street in London, many more have shared surfaces where the whole street is laid in one level with no physically distinct carriageway and in some cases no visible carriageway or footway. Shared space does not necessarily centre around the physical design and configuration of a street or public space. It involves a fundamentally different relationship between the movement of vehicles and all the other important functions that a street supports. It is the dynamics of this relationship that defines shared space, not the design of the street itself. It is argued that barriers such as guardrails, standard kerbs, bollards and sign clutter do not generally help establish a social relationship between different users, and their avoidance or removal is said to be remarkably beneficial in improving safety, facilitating smooth traffic movement, and enhancing the quality of public space. But the design is merely a means to an end. The idea is that shared space areas should contribute to greater traffic safety because motorists in particular will feel insecure and consequently will be more alert in such environments and will slow down to negotiate their way through pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle users. At the same time it is argued that pedestrians will feel that they can move freely in the entire street space instead of being confined to footways. While such assertions may be true for many road users, Guide Dogs has presented research that demonstrates that the shared space concept presents significant difficulties for blind and partially sighted people not just in crossing the shared area but also in terms of navigation and orientation around it. 1.1 Legal Aspects: Denmark The following is based on the Danish Traffic Law and is followed by information on the UK situation. Although the shared space concept requires “negotiation” as to the right of way, there must be a minimum of rules. In case of an accident, it should be possible to determine who is legally responsible. In the Danish System, there exist the following rules: In a “normal” street, the cars are in the carriageway and pedestrians on sidewalks. A pedestrian can cross the carriageway at his own risk and must give way to cars and other vehicles. At an uncontrolled zebra crossing, the motorists and cyclists must however give way to pedestrians who have stepped on to the crossing. This rule is however often violated by motorists and by cyclists. Consequently blind and partially sighted people consider such crossings to be dangerous. At a signal controlled crossing motorists and cyclists must stop to allow pedestrians to cross when traffic signals indicate that they should do so. Pedestrian Street rules (DK) Many Danish streets that might be understood as shared spaces are signposted with a Pedestrian Street sign, with a sub-sign allowing car traffic. The general rule for a Pedestrian Street according to Danish Rules is that the street area is reserved for pedestrians. By adding signs it is however possible to allow vehicular traffic either within a specified period or for a particular function (e.g. goods delivery only) or to provide for unlimited access. It is also possible to allow cycling. In this case the following “give way” rules apply: Vehicular traffic must at all times give way to pedestrians. In other words, vehicular traffic is behaving on the pedestrians‟ terms. Pedestrians should however not wilfully hamper the traffic. The problem in this is mainly that not all motorists and - particularly cyclists - are aware of these rules or observe them. Legal Aspects: UK The highway is a route intended to allow the passage of traffic (including both vehicles and pedestrians). The term highway may include the carriageway, footways and verges bounding the carriageway or separating it from a footway. It may also take the form of a footpath which is a highway over which the public have a right of way on foot only. In considering shared surfaces, "street" is the term likely to be of most relevance. The Manual for Streets published by the Department for Transport (DfT) in March 2007 defines a street as an urban highway or road that is typically lined with buildings and public spaces. The street is expected to fulfil social purposes and functions other than just movement of traffic. The terms carriageway and footway make it clear as to which mode of transport is expected to use them. The Highway Code states that “You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property.” However, pedestrians are not legally bound to stay off the road or carriageway (except in the case of motorways and motorway slip roads). Provision may be made to help pedestrians to cross the carriageway in the form of uncontrolled crossings (zebra) or crossings controlled by traffic lights. At Zebra crossings, traffic is required to stop if a pedestrian has moved onto the crossing. Controlled crossings may take various forms but traffic must stop when the red light is displayed. This is often reinforced in the UK by the presence of enforcement cameras at such crossings. Traffic is also expected to give way to pedestrians that are on the crossing even when the red light is no longer showing. Pedestrians receive a visual signal in the form of a red or green illuminated figure and there may also be an audible and/or tactile signal. The Puffin crossing, which incorporates pedestrian detection systems, is the form now preferred by the Department for Transport (DfT) for all controlled crossings. At the approach to crossings there should be a flush kerb with appropriate tactile paving as described in the Guidance on the Use of Tactile Paving Surfaces. (Department for Transport.) The above refers principally to traditional road layouts. However, for many years, local highways authorities have been adopting traffic calming measures intended to give greater priority to pedestrians. Pedestrians and vehicles have been encouraged to share surfaces in town centres and in residential areas. This has applied in both new build and in redevelopment of existing streets. Pedestrian priority streets rely on physical and other design measures to reduce vehicle speeds so that they are more compatible with pedestrian activity. Pedestrians, however, do not necessarily have legal priority over vehicles except where vehicles are denied access during specified hours. The situation is different with Home Zones where the legislation provides for certain uses – such as children‟s play – to be authorised and for speed orders to be made. 1.2 The safe space concept - definition The solution that is explored in this project is whether it is possible to define and create a “safe space” as a counterpart to the shared space. The Safe Space would be seen as the equivalent of the footway in a traditional street but it would not prevent motorists, cyclists and pedestrians from sharing the larger part of the street area - the shared space – where they are confident about doing so. In this approach the shared space area would occupy only a part of the street - usually the centre part. If this approach is to be effective the shared space and the safe space must be clearly defined and the division between them must be clearly visible and detectable. This project has identified 4 potential design approaches which are discussed further in this paper: 1. The kerb is reintroduced in the street design in a form that is compatible with the shared space concept. 2. Instead of a kerb, a textured area is introduced between the shared space and the safe space. 3. A route indicated by tactile paving – the guidance path surface – is provided. 4. Instead of a division between the 2 “spaces”, other measures are applied to guide blind and visually impaired pedestrians - e.g. a central delineator. These design approaches, outlined in the following sections, are proposed for testing in the next stage of the Guide Dogs' research project. In this trial stage Guide Dogs will involve a number of blind and partially sighted people, and people with other disabilities, to test the design concepts. Guide Dogs has identified the University College London‟s PAMELA facility (located in N London) which would afford a safe and comfortable test environment in which to run tests with vulnerable pedestrians. PAMELA is the Pedestrian Accessibility and Movement Environment Laboratory, an internal space where a range of pedestrian surfaces can be tested. Illustration 1 Traditional Street environment with a kerb demarcating the carriageway and footway Illustration 2 Shared Surface – total mix of all kinds of traffic Illustration 3 Shared space and safe space 2.1 Reintroduction of the kerb 2.1.1 Standard upstand kerb (125mm) The traditional kerb in some ways could be considered the optimal solution to the problem: everything is as it used to be with a form of demarcation that could be recognised by people including those using long canes or a guide dog. The main problem is that the kerb and the vertical division it represents appears counter to the shared space idea promoted by proponents of the concept. However, Kensington High Street in London has been described as an example of shared space, where there is a clear relationship between all the many users of the busy street, despite the use of traditional kerbs and the high volume of traffic. Suggested means of reducing the impact of the kerb in the shared space effect: • Raised carriageway at crossings. This will assist wheelchair users and has the aesthetic advantage of removing the need for ramps within the kerb/footway width. Blister tactile paving would have to be used at the crossing since the carriageway is in effect flush with the footway. • Conscious use of paving colour and structure to minimize the appearance of separate zones for drivers and pedestrians. • More crossing opportunities than in a traditional street. This will increase the number of pedestrians visible in the carriageway area. 2.1.2 Kerb with 30mm upstand The idea behind this proposal is this: a 30mm kerb could still be “legible” to blind or partially sighted people, including those using a guide dog or a long cane while not creating a very powerful visual vertical separation of the zones in the street. According to Danish experience and regulations a 30mm kerb can be negotiated by most wheelchair users, and thus it is suggested that wheelchair users would be at liberty to enter and cross the shared space anywhere, should they wish to do so. This would, of course, need to be tested with wheelchair users in the UK. To ensure easy access for all wheelchair users flush dropped kerbs would be established at crossing points, with the appropriate tactile surface for blind and partially sighted people. As the height difference to be negotiated by the ramp is only 30mm, the ramp could be integrated in the kerb in an aesthetically pleasing way. If a raised carriageway, rather than a dropped kerb, is used to provide a flush surface, appropriate paving must also be used. In the proposal, the crossing point is designed as a controlled crossing. The purpose of this is to make certain that all pedestrians - including blind and partially sighted people - are able to cross confidently at a number of points. Digital illustration of a street environment with a 30mm kerb demarcating the footway from the carriageway To be tested 1. Can guide dogs recognise the 30mm kerb? 2. Will the 30mm kerb be picked up easily by long cane users? 3. Can visually impaired people with no mobility aid (guide dog or cane) recognise the 30 mm kerb? 4. Will the 30mm kerb be recognised by other pedestrians or could it be a trip hazard? 5. Can 30mm be negotiated easily and safely by wheelchair users in the UK? Digital illustration showing the drop kerb from a 30mm kerb 2.1.3 Kerb with sloping top The idea here is that a level difference between the shared and the safe space could be introduced similar to the difference between footway and carriageway. But by using a sloping kerb top the spatial connection between the 2 spaces will be intact (or at least reduced on a smaller scale than if the kerb has a vertical edge in the traditional manner). The kerb could be designed with a slope of 1 in 10. With a kerb height of 100mm, this will result in a kerb width of 1000mm, which is a very large portion of the street section, especially in narrow conditions. According to Danish regulations, most wheelchair users can negotiate a gradient of 1 in 10 over a short distance (level difference below 200mm). The corresponding rule as stated in “Inclusive Mobility” is a maximum gradient of 1 in 12. Using a steeper gradient than 1 in 12 would mean that wheelchair users might have difficulty crossing the kerb. The sloping kerb would then be a solely visual element. Another alternative would be to use a smaller difference of level. To be tested 1. Can a guide dog recognise a sloping kerb? 2. Can this be easily detected by long cane users? 3. Can visually impaired people with no mobility aid (guide dog or cane) recognise the sloping kerb? 4. Can a 1:12 (or 1:10) gradient be negotiated by wheelchair users? 5. What is the minimum kerb height that could be used in these circumstances? Digital illustrations showing the sloped kerb in a street environment including a close up picture 2.2 Textured or tactile division 2.2.1 Uneven area In this proposal, the division between shared and safe space is achieved by establishing a textured surface area consisting of granite setts or some other uneven paving material. There will be no vertical division between the 2 spaces. The textured area will be the logical place to locate street furniture such as trees, lamps, bicycle stands, benches etc. (Bicycle stands should be located so that not only the stand but also the bike is located outside the walkway). Street furniture would also contribute to the visual impact. The textured material would need to be rigorous enough for long cane users to be able to detect the difference between the even walkway (safe space) and the textured area. The material should not, however, pose any risk of becoming a trap for long canes, or be a problem for wheelchair users or people with walking difficulties to cross. Guide dogs are not trained to respond to this kind of division but they are trained to lead the owner around street furniture, trees etc on the footway. If this approach were adopted and for some reason (perhaps a large number of other pedestrians on the footway) the dog chose to guide the owner into the textured zone, the owner would still have time to notice the difference by sensing the different surfaces with their feet, before he/she has entered the shared space. This, of course, would require a significant enough difference in texture to be detected by blind and partially sighted people affected by diabetes who have reduced sensitivity in their feet. To be tested 1. Can guide dogs recognise this area and keep to the safe space? 2. Can it easily be detected by long cane users? 3. Can visually impaired people with no mobility aid (guide dog or cane) pick up the textured area? 4. Can it be picked up by those blind and partially sighted people with reduced sensation in their feet? 5. Would long canes or walking sticks get stuck between gaps of the textured surface ? 6. Is it problematic for wheelchair users and people with walking difficulties who want to cross at will to pass such a wide expanse of textured surface? Photo of Lynby High Street in Denmark, showing the division with a textured surface between the shared and safe space. It shows parking bays, exhibits fixtures and street furniture. Digital illustrations showing textured difference between the carriageway and footway. 2.2.2 Central delineator strip In this proposal, the division between shared and safe space is achieved by establishing a central delineator strip designed and located according to “Guidance on the use of tactile paving surfaces” The central delineator strip is white, 12-20mm high, 150mm wide with sloping sides and a flat top of 50mm. A 20mm profile has been shown to be of more value to blind and partially sighted people. The central delineator strip is originally designed for use on segregated paths shared by cyclists. Its application in a more general street environment would however appear logical in the sense that the strip signifies a division between pedestrians and vehicular traffic which is what is we are looking at here to define the boundary between shared and safe space. Design studies should be explored, possibly the central delineator strip could be made in e.g. granite, dark or lighter colours, in order to improve the visual appearance of the element. This solution could primarily be relevant in 2 situations: • In existing shared spaces, where a need for division between safe and shared space is evident and limited new construction is possible. For technical or perhaps financial reasons. • In very narrow conditions. The strip‟s width of only 15 cm is considerably smaller than most other measures considered. Some design work would be required to ensure that the strip could be provided across a range of surface materials and drainage issues would need to be resolved. Consideration would also have to be given to layout at crossing points and to the training of guide dogs to work with the delineator in these circumstances. To be tested 1. Would 150mm strip be sufficient to be picked up? 2. Can long cane users and guide dog users detect the strip and follow it, knowing when they are in the safe space? 3. Can visually impaired people without a mobility aid (cane or guide dog) detect and follow the strip? 4. Would the strip be recognised by other disabled people wishing to know the boundary of the safe space? 5. Will the strip be a problem or trip hazard? Digital illustrations showing the central delineator demarcating the footway from the carriageway within a street environment. A few close up photos of the central delineator 2.3 Centrally located guidance path To use a tactile surface to delineate the shared space from the safe space by introducing the guidance path surface as recommended in the “Guidance on the use of tactile paving surfaces”. The original purpose of the guidance path surface is to guide visually impaired people along a route when the traditional cues, such as a property line or kerb edge, are not available, for instance in an open pedestrian square. The surface was designed so that people can be guided along the route either by walking on the tactile surface or by maintaining contact with a long cane. The existing guidance states that surface should be 800mm wide and in a contrasting colour to the surrounding area (but not red which is restricted to blister paving at controlled crossings). To reduce the impact consideration should be given to reducing the width to 400mm. Several local authorities in the UK have used a guidance path, or variation of this, in a „shared space‟ area but this application has not been tested. As the surface is designed so that visually impaired people may walk on it, placing it at the edge of the safe space may cause problems. Consideration should be given to placing the guidance path within the safe space, rather than at the edge, with an additional visual indicator of the edge of the safe space. To be tested 1. Would the guidance path be sufficient warning for a blind and partially sighted person to detect they are moving from the safe space onto the shared space? 2. Should it be placed at the edge of the safe space or within it? 3. Should there be any added features to assist with orientation? 4. What should be the recommended width of the surface to enable identification? 5. Will the guidance path pose a problem for wheelchair users and others wishing to cross the shared space at will? Digital illustrations showing guidance path within the safe space. Close up design of the guidance path. 2.4 Crossings An extremely important issue in the Shared Space Project will be the crossings, that is the places where visually impaired and other disabled pedestrians can cross the shared space on their way from one safe space to another. Crossing opportunities are necessary in order to enable these pedestrians the same possibilities as other people to e.g. visit shops or other functions on both sides of a street. Signal controlled crossings with audible signals are the preferred crossings for blind and partially sighted people. In a traditional street network where perhaps most street crossings are signal controlled, sufficient crossing opportunities may exist. But in a shared space environment it would also seem reasonable that blind and partially sighted people should be able to cross the street in places other than at junctions. We suggest that – depending on the total length of street, “natural” intersections (side streets) etc., signal controlled crossings are provided every 200-300 m. These crossings should be of the Puffin- type. Between the signal controlled crossings, uncontrolled crossings could also be provided at regular intervals. These would have to be marked by tactile surfaces as prescribed in “Guidance on the use of tactile paving surfaces” (“uncontrolled crossing away from a junction”). An alternative solution would be the use of Zebra crossings at regular intervals. Danish experience leads us however to advise against this solution. Too many drivers, particularly cyclists, are not aware of the give way rules, and it is impossible to use audible signals at a Zebra. (Of course – traffic culture may be better in UK!). We feel that the safest system will consist of “safe spaces” connected by signal controlled crossings with audible signals. This will give an unambiguous street system for blind and partially sighted people. Digital photos – showing an uncontrolled crossing marked by lamp posts and paving in different colour 2.4.1 Signal controlled crossings Signal controlled crossings are required to provide vulnerable pedestrians with a safe place that they can cross with confidence. In a shared space environment, if low traffic speeds are achieved, the minimal use of traffic signs and road markings normally required should be explored to reduce the visual impact. The signals should in each case be designed in a way that fits the other elements in the street such as lamp posts etc. Pavings should also be integrated in a more natural way in the design than is common nowadays. The tactile surfaces in the proposals have been designed according to “Guidance on the use of tactile paving surfaces”, as we believe these rules to be very well established in UK practice. Digital illustrations above show simplified crossings without the traffic signs required by the DfT The key issue raised in this report is the creation and definition of a safe space for vulnerable pedestrians in a shared space environment. The report explores some design approaches to achieve this. These design approaches will be tested with blind and partially sighted people and other disabled people. Guide Dogs recommendations will be based on test results. Shared Space >> Safe Space Traditionally our streets have been designed to segregate pedestrians and other road users, generally through the provision of a footway running parallel to the carriageway. The shared space concept has been devised as an alternative to that approach. The idea is that shared space areas should contribute to greater traffic safety because motorists in particular will feel insecure and consequently will be more alert in such environments and will slow down to negotiate their way through pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle users. At the same time it is argued that pedestrians will feel that they can move freely in the entire street space instead of being confined to footways. While such assertions may be true for many road users, Guide Dogs has presented research that demonstrates that the shared space concept presents significant difficulties for blind and partially sighted people not just in crossing the shared area but also in terms of navigation and orientation around it. The safe space concept The solution that is proposed in this project is the creation and definition of a "safe space" as a counterpart to the shared space The Safe Space would be seen as the equivalent of the footway in a traditional street but it would not prevent motorists, cyclists and pedestrians from sharing the larger part of the street area - the shared space – where they are confident about doing so.