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Plan for shared space on Deal seafront

By Eleanor Perkins

Town councillors Bob Frost and Ian Kilberry are keen to enforce the idea of shared space on Deal seafront.

Shared space is a new design concept for town centre developments, often delivered by means of a shared surface street design. In most cases the design involves removing the kerb that has traditionally separates areas for vehicles and pedestrians.

The concept aims to reduce the dominance of vehicles to make streets more people-friendly and encourage users to be extra vigilant as they negotiate a new road layout.

Beach Street in Deal

Cllr Frost said: “The designed environment I believe, changes the way people behave.”

Having researched the idea in Western Super Mare and spoken to independently traffic engineers, the councillors believe the job could be completed for less than £100,000.

Cllr Frost made the point that the cost of a serious road traffic collision is round about the same figure, if not more. According to a department of transport report in 2011 it has been estimated that, on average, the economic damage caused by a fatal road traffic collision amounts to nearly £1.8 million and that the damage from a serious injury amounts to over £200,000.

Considering the recent the accident on Beach Street on Monday, April 21, Cllr Frost said: “Changing the road layout would pay for itself.”

The system they have devised includes three entry points, one by the roundabout on Beach Street, one in King Street and one at the pinch point just past the Royal Hotel. The right of way will always be given to people exiting the shared space area.

However, because the concept encourages pedestrians, motorists and cyclists to make eye contact to establish who has priority, blind and partially sighted people are at a disadvantage.

Blind people, particularly guide dog owners and long cane users are trained to use the kerb as a key navigation cue in the street environment.

Its removal, exposes blind and partially sighted people to greater risk, creating a barrier to their independent mobility.

Guide dog owner Liz Sykes who lives in Golf Road, Deal said: “I don’t think we should have it. It’s something that guide dogs are battling against all the time. Even the little bit by the Sue Ryder shop in the high street is an issue now the kerb has been dropped.”

Ashford has adopted the concept which Mrs Sykes said has stopped her visiting the area.

“I often walk along Deal seafront but I would have to avoid using the area.”

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