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A Review of the Evolution of Shared (Street) Space Concepts in Urban Environments

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This paper aims to clearly establish the origin and evolution of the shared space concept from a New Zealand perspective by reviewing the literature in the disciplines of both urban design and transportation engineering. The review process involves investigating the use and function of a public road space in the context of the changing of public expectations and how this can relate to a number of interconnected street design approaches (e.g. traffic calming and self-explaining roads (SERs)). These approaches have been used to minimise the influence of motor vehicles since the beginning of the automobile era. The shared space concept, when applied in public road environments in activity centres, has increasingly been embraced by urban planners, transportation engineers and regulatory agencies. A shared space diverges from a conventional road where all road users are encouraged to legitimately occupy the same road space with little physical separation. To achieve this in a safe and efficient manner, the design aims to reduce the dominance of the motor vehicle by promoting pedestrian and cycling activity and utilising the road space as a ‘place’ in addition to its ‘transport’ mobility and access purposes. Given the fundamental conceptual differentiation between a traffic-calmed street and a shared space, the paper argues that there are certain design elements, constituting a shared space, and without them, it would be difficult for a public street to function as a genuine shared space for all road users.
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Keywords: public road space; shared space; shared street; shared zone; traffic calming; urban street design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Road Corridor Operations, Auckland Transport, Private Bag 92250, Auckland, 1142, New Zealand 2: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, 1142, New Zealand

Publication date: March 4, 2014

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