Plans to transform London’s Exhibition Road have taken a step closer, as the local council cabinet has approved detailed designs to introduce a shared space along its length.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Council Cabinet approved plans to remove kerbs and instead introduce a single surface with clear visual and tactile delineators that will distinguish between pedestrian areas and the carriageway.
The scheme will be delivered in two stages - stage one began in February 2009 to unravel the one-way system around South Kensington Station. Stage two will begin the first stage of streetscape improvements in November 2009. The total cost of stage one is approximately £5.7M and stage two will cost approximately £18.8M.
11.5M people visit the area each year to visit London’s grand museums - the Victoria and Albert, the Natural history and the Science Museums.
Councillor Nicholas Paget-Brown said: “Accessibility and safety are of paramount importance to the Royal Borough and our partners Westminster City Council and the Mayor of London. Everyone agrees that current conditions in the Exhibition Road area are not acceptable and with over 100 road traffic accidents in the last three years alone, there is an urgent need to address the problem.
“It’s our responsibility to consider all users as we work to transform Exhibition Road and we believe that this design, combined with the introduction of a 20 mph speed limit, will substantially improve safety and accessibility for everyone,” he said.
The borough claims that the single surface will improve access for those using wheelchairs, push chairs, the elderly and partially sighted people. Black cast iron drainage covers will line each side of the vehicle zone to visually separate pedestrian areas from moving traffic, which is particularly useful for young children and the partially sighted.
Wide strips of corduroy tactile – ridged paving often used to demark steps – will be installed alongside the drainage gulley to alert blind people to the edge of the safe zone.
The scheme is due for completion by the end of 2011, in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Council will carry out a further safety audit following yesterday’s decision and is involved in ongoing research funded by Transport for London into delineation devices for single surface schemes, as part of its continued commitment to safety and accessibility. The Council is working with Imperial College to monitor the existing use of Exhibition Road and will continue to monitor road usage for up to two years after implementation to assess the safety of the road.