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Toddler's father urges end of 'shared space' as UK suspends controversial scheme

Toddler's father urges end of 'shared space' as UK suspends controversial scheme

Tuesday 31 July 2018

Toddler's father urges end of 'shared space' as UK suspends controversial scheme

Tuesday 31 July 2018

The father of a toddler killed on a controversial ‘shared space’ road two years ago this summer has renewed calls to scrap the layout in Jersey after the UK government concluded they were too dangerous for many road users.

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) last week announced that they would be putting the brakes on the scheme, which involves minimising the difference between road and pavement in a bid to ‘declutter’ road spaces, following widespread complaints from road safety and accessibility campaigners. They will now be undertaking a review.

‘Shared spaces’ work on the assumption that motorists will reduce their speed as they approach the more pedestrianised – but visually impaired road users described such areas as risky and “difficult to navigate.”

Others argue that they can have more tragic consequences. 

Such was the case in Jersey for three-year-old Clinton Pringle, who lost his life after being hit by a van as he crossed the shared space road on Tunnell Street to Millennium Park in summer 2016.

During a subsequent court case involving the van driver, Rebekah Le Gal, a UK engineer’s safety audit used as evidence suggested that the road layout itself may have played a part in causing the fatal collision. 

The report’s author, Alexandra Luck, strongly criticised the layout, damningly concluding that she did not observe a single driver modify their driving or speed as they approached the area where Clinton was killed in all the time she spent in the area. The Parish of St. Helier disputed her findings, however.

Reacting to the latest update from the DfT, Clinton’s father, Michael, said that he felt this could “spell the end for ‘shared space’ as we currently know it.”

He told Express: "There seems to be an increasing realisation that these spaces are not fit for purpose. I have already stated on several occasions that the additional safety measures put in place at Tunnell Street and Robin Place in St Helier fall a long way short of what I believe is adequate.  

"I realise there are cost implications to making changes but their is no cost higher to a family than losing the life and love of their child.”

Contacted by Express, Jersey’s Department for Infrastructure, which takes responsibility for many of the island’s major road works, said that they would keep a close watch on the UK developments.

“While not bound by it, the States of Jersey uses UK technical and design guidance as best practice for its schemes. We are following developments in the UK closely and are working with one of the co-authors of the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation’s report to review Jersey’s shared spaces. The road safety improvement programme is unaffected by this and does not include any schemes covered by this recommendation,” a spokesperson commented.

Mr Pringle, who visited Downing Street last year to call for the end of shared spaces, added: "While Jersey doesn't have to adhere to anything that happens in the UK I would hope that those in charge of road design would take on board the safety concerns around these schemes, and plan accordingly in the future.

"Whatever the authorities in Jersey choose to do from here on in comes too late for Clinton and us as a family, but it may prevent a similar tragedy from happening again."  

Express has contacted the Parish of St. Helier for comment, and is awaiting a response.

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