Cut the Jam – add pedestrians!

Cutting traffic jams in cities is often about more roads and keeping pedestrians safe from cars – off the road. The idea of shared space is turning this logic on its head – mixing traffic with pedestrians and observing real improvements.

The picture, left, shows Zentralplatz in Biel, Switzerland. Biel’s town square has become an encounter zone mixing cars with pedestrians, removing traffic lanes and markings and often traffic lights. Traffic improves for everyone.

This is not just happening in Europe. Bendigo Australia has an ambitious program for shared space* – removing pedestrian crossings and creating an city where people prefer walking over cars.

Dr Rodney Tolley, Director Walk21 and author of the Bendigo transformation study says a study of such shared spaces finds they are incredibly safe. ‘We are yet to find a death’ in such spaces worldwide, he said in Adelaide today.

As a bonus car traffic is actually cut. Previously people drove between shops in the Bendigo space. Now it appears they walk. This has real economic benefits – shopping district come alive, along with more obvious community and environmental outcomes.

* See page 5 | Pictures: Christian Thomas