Accidents Halved As Street is Stripped of ‘Safety’ Features

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The results are in on one of urban designer and "shared space" proponent Ben Hamilton-Baillie's London projects. Kensington High Street is twice as safe now that all of the traffic engineering "safety features" are gone. The Standard reports:

ACCIDENT levels have almost halved in a London street where "safety" equipment such as guard rails, white lines and signposts were stripped out.

The redesign of Kensington High Street has been such a success that the "naked road" concept is set to be rolled out to other cities in Britain and around the world.

Engineers removed railings, scores of signposts and combined traffic lights with lamp posts to reduce clutter.

They cleared the road surface of superfluous white lines, re- aligned the kerb to follow the line of shop frontages and junked the different coloured surface materials used by other councils.

Now Kensington and Chelsea council aims to capitalise on its success by pressing ahead with a major new road scheme near South Kensington Tube station a key stepping stone towards a multi- million-pound redevelopment of Exhibition Road.

In spite of warnings from the Department for Transport that the scheme would worsen safety, figures obtained by the Standard show that the number of accidents in Kensington High Street has fallen from 71 a year to just 40 a drop of nearly 44 per cent.

Accident levels on comparable roads across London have fallen by only 17.5 percent, an internal council study shows.

Since the scheme was completed in September 2003, the number of pedestrians hurt has fallen from 26 a year to nine.

Photo: Ben Hamilton-Baillie