FOR years urban planners have emphasised the needs of the motorist over those of the pedestrian. Thanks partly to greenery, partly to a greater understanding of how pedestrians behave, and partly to concerns about social cohesion, priorities are changing.
London provides two good examples of this shift. On February 1st Exhibition Road, a landmark street near many of the city’s museums, is being formally reopened after a three-year construction project to turn it into something that transport engineers like to call a “shared space”. Kerbs have been stripped out, along with the usual road markings, to create a thoroughfare that is designed to be shared by cyclists, pedestrians and cars alike. The idea, adopted from continental Europe, is to create an area which is not just more pleasant for people on foot but also safer because it encourages drivers to pay closer attention to their surroundings. (Economist)