Urban Update 1 September 2015

Download Urban Update 1 September 2015

Main Headlines

  • Dangerous lorries banned from London to protect cyclists
  • Exercise adds 3 – 7 years of life
  • Simple changes will make roads safer – a world view on road safety
  • Who should decide – Public, Professionals or Politicians?
  • Gentrification
  • Can high density housing solve the regional housing crisis?
  • Safe air quality levels carry heart attack risk


Cost of Interim Tactile Paving Guidance proposal could hit street improvements

The Department for Transport has begun a consultation on interim amendments to the Guidance on the Use of Tactile Paving Surfaces.  Under the ruling of Ali vs Newham 2012, highway authorities must comply with the Guidance unless there are clear and cogent reasons for departure.  

One of the proposals in the interim guidance is to introduce a universal requirement for the boundary between carriageway and footway to be demarcated with tactile paving at least 800mm in depth, wherever they are at the same level or a level change of less than 60mm.  “This rule should apply to any continuous barrier-free surface occupied by pedestrians and vehicles be that a flat top road hump, a raised side road or junction, or an extended level surface area.”  It is unclear, from the draft, what type of tactile surface is proposed for these circumstances

Some practitioners have expressed concern over this proposal.  There is the potential for confusion between the tactile paving at the footway edge and the tactile marking at crossing points.  There is also the long standing issue over creating unnecessary and confusing visual clutter. The proposals have serious implications for the majority of villages, conservation areas, mews, courtyards etc and come at a time when the Department for Transport has set up a working group chaired by Alan Duncan MP to deal with clutter.  But perhaps most significant of all is the cost, and the likely cost-benefit.  Many older streets have kerbs that are less than 60mm high, decades of resurfacing having raised the level of the carriageway; and nationally around 50 percent of highways are shared spaces – with no footway and this would include the vast bulk of rural lanes and main roads, and many streets in villages.   It is uncertain whether it is better to spend money in demarcating footway edges, or making the footway safer, removing obstructions including wheely bins which prevent blind and partially sighted people from following the building line; reducing trip hazards through better maintenance of footways, and introducing 20mph speed limits which make streets safer for all road users.

The approach to the design and management of the public realm should be rational, fair, and based on science and evidence.  Above all it should address the needs of society as a whole, including with the full range of abilities, and by children. We can design the public realm to make it easier for blind and partially sighted people to get around; but we can also design the public realm to help prevent people developing blindness in the first place by encouraging walking, cycling and the active lifestyles that ward off type II diabetes – the main cause of blindness.  The concern is that this un-costed proposal will divert scarce funds and make that task more difficult.

The consultation runs until 13 November 2015