London Cycling Campaign in Hackney says "Let's share Shoreditch"

Dutch-style 'design for negotiation' comes to streets north of the City, writes Trevor Parsons from the London Cycling Campaign in Hackney:

Foot will come before wheel, and muscle before motor when, later this year, Leonard Circus (see photo), at the intersection of two streets in Shoreditch, becomes East London's first sizeable example of 'shared space', an idea pioneered by the great Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman in the Frisian town of Drachten.

The area between the buildings will be paved (see illustration) at a single level in unglazed brickwork, broken up by an irregular pattern of lines inlaid in a contrasting material.

Kerbs, signs and carriageway markings will be notable by their absence, and trees will be planted in an apparently haphazard arrangement (carefully chosen to avoid the intense virtual traffic carried by telecommunications cables below) and surrounded by circular seating.

The plan seeks to correct the problems created by the rather hastily conceived setting of a 1990s public art installation, properly called Hitchcock's Reel and unofficially dubbed the 'disco biscuit', whose plinth juts out unsympathetically into the space, obstructing pedestrian movement and hampering efforts to restore two-way cycling to east-west Leonard Street and north-south Paul Street (part of London Cycle Network route 10).

This location is a safe bet as a location in which to experiment with shared space because motor traffic was slashed here by the congestion charging zone in 2002, while footfall and cycle traffic have been steadily increasing.

Two-way cycling was recently restored in Paul Street, and this scheme will reintroduce it throughout the length of Leonard Street.

We look forward to temporary events in the space, and a coffee kiosk for thirsty riders.

We thank Daniel Nelson for the visualisation. This article first appeared in Hackney insert of the Feb-Mar 2013 issue of London Cyclist magazine, delivered free to members every two months.