Sharing or separation - UWE hosts debate on traffic and people on our streets

Issue date: 08 May 2012

UWE Bristol is hosting a debate entitled 'Sharing or Separation: Which Way for Streets of the Future?' on Tuesday 22 May at its Frenchay campus.

The debate will be between senior lecturer in transport and planning Dr Steve Melia from UWE and design consultant Ben Hamilton-Baillie. Steve initiated the Living Heart for Bristol campaign, which aims to remove through traffic from the centre of Bristol, and is co-author of a research paper which questions recent guidance from the Department for Transport on shared space. Ben Hamilton-Baillie is generally regarded as the leading proponent of shared space, whose work has increased the influence of these ideas in the UK and elsewhere.

The free event will be chaired by Professor Graham Parkhurst, Director of UWE's Centre for Transport and Society, and will ask:

  • Is sharing space in streets better than separating modes?
  • Under what circumstances is it better to share, or better to separate?
  • How can street design best influence transport behaviour and the quality of the urban environment?

The debate will begin with short presentations from Steve and Ben, and will then open up to contributions from the audience. It will be of particular interest to transport planners, spatial planners, urban designers and anyone interested in the future of our streets and our towns and cities.

The 'shared space' approach to street design has become very influential in the UK in recent years, with the Department for Transport recently issuing guidance to local authorities on how to apply the principles (Local Transport Note 1/11). The basic idea is that emphasising place qualities and avoiding highway elements and demarcations between vehicles and pedestrians can improve the street environment, lower speeds and reduce the dominance of motor traffic.

Recent research published by UWE has called into question some of the claims made for shared space, provoking a lively debate in the planning, transport and general media.


Editor's notes

For more details on the debate and to register see

Dr Steve Melia is a Senior Lecturer in Transport and Planning at UWE's Centre for Transport and Society.

Hamilton-Baillie Associates specialises in reconciling traffic movement with quality public spaces in cities, towns and villages. It has designed many shared space schemes around the country.

Back to top