This is a 14 minute video report about a substantial change to a busy road crossing in an English village. The main crossing in the traditional village suffered from a high, externally generated traffic volume of about 26,000 vehicles per day. The traffic separated the village, because it was difficult and dangerous to cross the street despite, or perhaps because, of the traffic lights. The perception was that Poynton, about 17km from Manchester, was dying
“Over the years, the increase in traffic and the steps taken to try to deal with that have changed this place from being the heart of the village into being merely a traffic-signal-controlled wasteland,” said Ben Hamilton-Baillie, the street designer whose firm executed the change, before the work began.
Eventually the town council embarked on a $6 million shared space project inspired by the work of Hans Monderman. It was seen as the most ambitious street redesign in the UK, based on a road hierarchy that puts vulnerable road users at the apex. The aim was to reduce car speeds while having an even flow of traffic that was less dangerous. The reduction of speed meant that less space was required for cars, resulting in wider pedestrian spaces and shorter crossing distances.
All kerbs were removed, creating a level of uncertainty for all traffic users and making it necessary for people in cars and on foot to look at each other to guess directional and yielding intentions. Traffic moved at the intended speed of 20mph (32kph) without the need for speed signs.
Local journey times reduced by up to 50 per cent and collisions were significantly less frequent and less severe. It was felt that the shared space solution had saved the town.
The video features interviews and traffic patterns from both before and after the project, illustrating how the initial suspicion of the traffic participants changed to approval after the redesign was implemented.