Shared space scheme 'proves critics wrong'
Despite fears for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists on a controversial shared space in Ashford, there have been just six accidents since it opened in 2008.
The shared space project transformed Ashford’s 1970s ring road into two-way streets in which drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have equal priority. The scheme, covering a 1km stretch of the old ring road, was implemented by Kent County Council.
Street furniture, road markings and traffic lights were removed and the speed limit cut to 20mph. Road surfaces were replaced with high-quality materials, wider footpaths and low kerbs, to create a distinctive tree-lined streetscape.
The £15.6m scheme attracted criticism from groups representing blind people and other road users, but most publically Jeremy Clarkson, who declared: “Someone is going to die, you idiots.”
Kent Police statistics reveal that there has been just one serious collision on the shared space, where a pedestrian sustained a broken ankle.
Judith Armitt, managing director for Ashford’s Future, said: “We are extremely proud that shared space has succeeded in driving down the number of accidents and cutting traffic speeds around the town centre. It has also put the town on the map and other towns are considering following our lead.”
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