Shared space cuts accidents in Kent

Highways Reporters

A shared space scheme in Kent has cut accidents by 41%.

The scheme turned Ashford's ring road into streets where drivers and pedestrians have equal priority and has been in place since November 2008.

Figures now released by Kent County Council show there has been a 41% drop in accidents in which people have been injured.

Under the scheme, signs, traffic lights and pavements were removed.

According to the council, between January 2004 and December 2006 there were 61 collisions involving injuries.

This figure dropped to 36 between December 2008 and November 2011.

The architect behind the scheme, Ben Hamilton-Baillie, told the BBC: "The worst fears that the accident rate would increase have not been born out by the figures.

"It's certainly safer - the difficulty with any scheme like this is that it increases the slight sense of risk and discomfort in order to achieve that safety.

"So people inevitably have some hesitation and nervousness about mixing with traffic as it relies on establishing a relationship at low speeds, which makes it possible to cross the road."

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