Shared Space on Birmingham University Campus

The signs in this Shared Space on the Birmingham University Campus are indicative of a failed idea

Moderman Shared Space proponents say that signs are not necessary in a Shared Space and should not be a part of a Shared Space. The ad-hoc sign in the left-hand image and the permanent non-standard sign in the right-hand image are an indicator that there have been serious problems at this Shared Space on the Birmingham University campus, even though motor traffic levels are relatively low. The person seen in the left-hand image is in fact in the middle of the road, which goes left-to-right, and did not look up, left, or right before crossing. Why would they? The paving gives the appearance of a pedestrian zone that just carries straight across from the buildings behind this viewpoint, and gives no indication that motor traffic might be going crossways here. Indeed my own reaction on seeing this sign for the first time was "What road?", only to find myself standing where this person is, with a car approaching. Ironically I have previously cycled along this road, and quietly cursed people just wandering across without looking. Only when you see both views does the reason for the problem become apparent. To people following the road this exact same location looks like a through-route (and it is a through-route), with some roadside parking.

People with visual disabilities have long complained about Shared Space schemes, and it's easy to see why if you just stop and think. The only thing to alert blind pedestrians that they are about to cross a road is the tactile paving, something that is in fact often missing from Shared Space designs. Kerb stones are intentionally not included, and clearly someone who is blind cannot read the sign that has been put up. If someone has low vision, the high contrast dark stripes imply that the safe area they have just walked across continues uninterrupted. That's also how a guide dog will interpret the street scene in the left-hand image.

Monderman Shared Space half way along a conventional road does not work, even if traffic levels are low, because those on the road will continue to drive (or cycle) as if they are on the road, whilst pedestrians will continue to walk as if they are in a pedestrian zone, thinking there is no need to look out for vehicles.