Posted by Yvonne on 25.11.2010

In Auckland, NZ , the City Council is working on creating great urban places in the inner city by applying the principle of shared spaces. Other cities who have introduced shared spaces have shown that the overall pedestrian head count has increased, people are staying longer in the area and it’s great for business! An added bonus has been that the amount of pedestrian accidents has decreased.

The philosophy behind the shared spaces concept is one of allowing human activity to be fully integrated with the rest of the traffic and not separating the two. Traditional road markings, signs and traffic signals are no longer part of the picture. Road and pavement become one and allows for natural human interactions rather then regulated ones.

This in its turn allows the ability for motorists to be considerate again. The idea itself was pioneered and promoted by Hans Monderman. Mr Monderman : “We’re losing our capacity for socially responsible behaviour, …The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.” Another source attributes the following to Monderman: “When you don’t exactly know who has right of way, you tend to seek eye contact with other road users… You automatically reduce your speed, you have contact with other people and you take greater care.”

ID/Lab embraces this theory as we think over regulating and adding too many regulatory signs to an urban area doesn’t often have the desired effect of making a place inviting. Wouldn’t it be more friendly to you, to know what you are allowed to do in a place rather then a score of activities that are prohibited?