Trust the Daily Mail to get upset about this traffic sign installation. Yes, we have to be sure that it would not be a danger to road users but isn’t that the artist’s point – to demonstrate that we have too many signs on our roads?
Ashford, in Kent, has been designated by the government as a growth centre town. It has found that its inner ring road is throttling its town centre. The ring road was put in place in the 1970s, and it is dominated by cars. The new design is planned to allow the same throughput of vehicles along the roads but to make the new space a more pleasant experience for pedestrians.
The scale of this project is large – for Britain, but is nothing new for the other peoples across Europe. Having our roads effectively turned into streets is a relatively new experience for Britain, and so when British drivers find themselves in such an environment you would expect them to be hesitant. This is no bad thing.
In the video below you will notice that Kent County Council cites Seven Dials in Camden, as a good example of street planning, where pedestrians and car users mix right across the street. The Seven Dials street experiment was a project for Car Free Day, set up by the ETA over ten years ago. Seven dials, stands as an exemplar for anyone who fears that fewer signs make our streets more dangerous. If you are ever in a position to visit Seven Dials, whilst in London you will experience an environment where quite high levels of traffic, manage to move in an environment where pedestrians feel safer and more relaxed. The ETA has long looked forward to a time when most of our streets have his feel.
The town centre plan in Ashford is another step in that direction.