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“Shared Space” in Boston; Weird One-Way Signs in D.C.

Just back home and going through all the good mail that’s been coming in after Week One of the tour. I had two trivial observations based on recent trips to Boston and D.C. In Boston, don’t know the particular address, I saw an interesting sign that said “Shared Space,” 10 mph. This is a European idea I haven’t seen previously expressed in the U.S., at least so literally. Anyone know its origins?

Also, while on the traffic signs tip, what’s up with the weird, yellow one-way signs in D.C., with their extremely small indications of what times the streets are one way and when they’re not? They seemed hard to scan while deciding whether or not to turn into a street. And is it just me or do they almost look like advertising notices?

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 1st, 2008 at 2:35 pm and is filed under Traffic Signs, Traffic Wonkery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to ““Shared Space” in Boston; Weird One-Way Signs in D.C.”

  1. Charlie D. Says:

    I’m guessing you saw either Palmer St or Winthrop St in Cambridge, MA. They were both recently reconstructed as “shared streets” bu the City of Cambridge. In the past they have basically acted as such, but previously there were very narrow sidewalks and awkward curbs. My understanding is that these designs came out of a very extensive public process, along with a city government that has a very progressive view on street design.

    Here is the city’s site with the details and history of the larger Harvard Square improvements now underway:

    http://www.cambridgema.gov/~CDD/et/infra/hsq/hsq.html

  2. S. Butler Says:

    An interesting article from The Boston Globe Magazine from Sunday, Aug. 10, “The Future of Crossing the Street”, sheds some light on this idea of Shared Space (as well as some other motorist vs. pedestrian issues). Basically, the idea is to eliminate curbs as a way of promoting a sharing of the entire street area by motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. In doing so, all individuals using the street must pay closer attention to their surroundings. As the article says, “Shared Space gets the street naked, removes all physical and psychological barriers, and forces cars and pedestrians to share. The concept makes the street safe by making it dangerous to proceed without paying attention.”

    Link to article:
    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2008/08/10/the_future_of_crossing_the_street/

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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