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Erroneous zone


It is thankfully the case that Derek Bissell's highly alarmist prediction (NCE 2 October), that designing Home Zones with limited visibility will lead to an increase in fatal accidents, is not borne out by the evidence.

Home Zones - or 'woonerf' areas - are commonplace in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, and were first introduced around 30 years ago.

The key criteria contained in The Institute of Highway Incorporated Engineers (IHIE) Guidelines are largely based on the Netherlands' national guidance document Recommendations for Traffic Provisions in Built-Up Areas, which is generally known by its (Dutch) acronym ASVV.

However, while the ASVV recommends a maximum spacing of 50m between calming events within a Home Zone, the drafting committee of the IHIE book were more cautious, recommending a 30m maximum spacing until more experience is gained in the UK.

Similarly, while the ASVV makes no recommendation for minimum forward visibility, it was felt that designers in the UK should be advised, in critical areas, to check that an appropriate sight distance is maintained, consistent with the design speed.

There is, therefore, no reason to believe that the IHIE Guidelines will result in Home Zones that are any less safe than those that already exist on the continent.

Those readers who doubt the ability of a motor vehicle to be brought to a stop within 12m, when being driven at around 10 mph, should simply attempt to do so the next time they drive.

They might also wish to ask themselves when they last saw a car park - another place where vehicles and pedestrians mix quite safely at low speeds - where a minimum forward visibility of over 12m was maintained throughout.

Philip Jones (M), Editor, IHIE Home Zone Guidelines, 88 Meddins Lane, Kinver, Stourbridge, West Midlands

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