Stall Street – How the council missed a trick

[EDIT 25/11/2014] It has been pointed out to me by the council that the ‘ramped’ kerbs are in fact flat corduroy and that the whole scheme is a flat shared space. I will be correcting this article in light of this]

I recently became aware of the public realm improvements on Lower Borough Walls and Stall Street and to be honest they still absolutely prioritize cars. They may want to paint it as great for pedestrians but seriously, what were they thinking?

Firstly the good bits. It will be primarily a pedestrianised area closed to traffic 10am to 6pm

Lower Borough Walls and Stall Street
Lower Borough Walls and Stall Street access restricted 10am to 6pm

It even looks like the council made out it was mainly pedestrianised:

Stall Street Artist Impression
Stall Street Artist Impression, look at all those people not tripping over the ramped kerbs.

What I don’t get is why this isn’t a shared space. A completely flat area with the road defined by a different stone work? [EDIT Which is what has been delivered]

Then on to the cycling bit.

Lower Borough Walls and Stall Street street plan
Lower Borough Walls and Stall Street street plan

This is a road space where 99.8% of the traffic is pedestrian. Yet the design is defined by the car. There isn’t even a cycle contraflow. In theory a cyclist can ride down Stall street, but the ramped kerbs and the road width don’t really support this.[EDIT note that the ramped kerbs are flat, however no contraflow for cycling has been provided]

I am particularly fond of the 3m wide shared cycleway/pedestrian zone on LBW. That is pure genius and in no way is unnecessary. They really have prioritised cars here.

This is an ideal opportunity for this area to become a shared space and I really think BANES dropped the ball here. I have no idea why we need kerbs on a space like this. Used different coloured stone to define the road, add in a cycle contraflow and lets do this right.

Dear council stop prioritising design around cars right in the heart of the city centre. Work begins in January. A very quick change here would make one hell of an open space.

[EDIT] Just wanted to add that I am  strongly against the idea of shared space (e.g. Seven Dials development where you have buses driving through the space), but this area is effectively a pedestrianised zone that needs limited traffic access and by creating a shared space here, you are in fact creating a pedestrianised zone with flexibility to accommodate cycling.

[EDIT 25/11 The kerbs are in fact flat, but there are still interactions designed into the shared space that are unnecessary. Ideally you could have created a cycle contraflow the length of LBW, however the council felt it was ‘safer’ to have bicycles interact with pedestrians rather than deliver a slightly wider road space with a cycle contraflow.]

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7 thoughts on “Stall Street – How the council missed a trick”

  1. If I remember they used to close that stretch of road to traffic on Saturdays with bollards! for pedestrian use only, do this again for 7 days and you would have a wide road for a cycle route and save money?

    1. From the pdf I have, the plan is to have an automatic raising bollard to block access to LBW. Basically if they removed the kerbs along the route you’d have this fantastic shared space with a wide road cyclists could use. It’s not often you see me use the term fantastic and shared space in the same sentence, but I honestly think this will work here. They’ve removed all the vehicular traffic from the space during the day.

    1. I’ll be honest, shared space doesn’t work. The specific example of the Poynton ‘shared space’ has been shown to prioritise driving over all other forms of transport. People have tried to use the space on a bicycle. It is extremely cycle unfriendly. Stall street is not ‘shared space’. It is a pedestrian area 10-18:00. That’s it. Seven dials will be Bath’s attempt at a shared space and it’s horrendous. Shared space is our high rise flats of the 60s. It won’t work. What does work is city design providing separate infrastructure for walking cycling and then IF possible driving (and finally parking). 🙂

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