Shared spaces as successful places

Artist impression of evening in George Street Sydney showing a shared street.
An artist’s impression showing the QVB stop in the George Street pedestrianised zone

What role do shared spaces play in “successful places”? And what are shared spaces anyway? A report compiled by the Transport Research Centre at UTS for the NSW Government attempts to answer these questions. The focus of the report was to understand how shared spaces can enhance the development of “successful places”, a key strategic priority of Transport. 

Varied terminology on the topic of shared spaces is not helpful and needs a standard definition. Another issue is whose opinion counts most. Is it user perceptions or transport performance measurements? And implementation is difficult even though there are many guidelines and there are few case studies.

What is a shared space?

The report offers the following definition.

“A public street or intersection that is intended and designed to be used by all modes of transport equally in a consistently low-speed environment. Shared space designs aim to reduce vehicle dominance and prioritise active mobility modes. Designs can utilise treatments that remove separation between users in order to create a sense of place and facilitate multi-functions.”


Broadly, high level critical findings include:

      • The shared space design concept is one tool for forming successful places across the community.
      • A spectrum of intervention and design options are available to transport professionals to achieve a shared space within the road network.
      • Defining relationships between design parameters and performance metrics are key to determining the factors leading to implementing successful shared space.
      • Current guidelines, standards and practical processes limit the application of novel shared space solutions.

The title of the Shared Spaces Review is, Evaluation and Implementation of Shared Spaces in NSW: Framework for road infrastructure design and operations to establish placemaking. Examination of existing Shared Space knowledge. The Transport Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney conducted the research for Transport for NSW. 

The report is comprehensive and detailed with some international case studies to illustrate issues and findings. The report provides recommendations and current best practice for Transport for NSW. 

Intergenerational shared spaces 

Having interaction between generations, particularly older and younger people is beneficial for everyone. Julie Melville and Alan Hatton-Yeo discuss the issues in a book chapter, Intergenerational Shared Spaces in the UK context

The authors discuss how the generations are separated by life activities and dwelling places. The design of the built environment is a major concern because is not conducive to sharing spaces across the generations.

While this book is not specifically about universal design, it is about inclusive practice and social inclusion.

Google Books has the full book, Intergenerational Space, edited by Robert M Vanderbeck and Nancy Worth.

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