7th Jul, 2022

Glamorous 'shared space' may be at expense of safety

Coventry Editorial 22nd Oct, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A NEWLY renovated stretch of road at the University of Warwick has been branded ‘incredibly dangerous’ after a student was hit by a car.

The new-look University Road, which runs through the centre of the Canley-based campus, has been slammed by staff and students who argue it is unsafe for the hundreds of pedestrians and cars that use the junction every day.

The road is built on ‘shared space’ principles, meaning road signs and markings are deliberately removed to encourage drivers to reduce their speed and to promote a ‘negotiation over priority’ between all road users – including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

Paramedics and West Midlands Police officers were called to the University campus just before 5pm on Tuesday, October 13 following reports of a collision between a pedestrian and a car.

The female student who was hit is understood to have admitted she was at fault and was taken to University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW).

But Students Union President, Isaac Leigh, has criticised the layout of the new road, arguing that it is unsafe and has led to campus-wide confusion.

“There has been a complacency from the university in assuming that students know how the new road system works,” he said.

“The idea just doesn’t work on a university campus – some international students are just getting used to the UK road system, let alone this stretch of road where there are no markings or obvious safe crossing points.”

Before the renovation work took place, the 20mph speed limit was clearly stated and the road and boasted two pedestrian crossings at one of the campus’ busiest spots – between the Student’s Union and the Warwick Arts Centre.

But, following the redesign, there is now no designated crossing or markings on the road of any kind.

Isaac added that in response to last week’s accident the university had put up some small 20mph signs and had stationed members of security staff at the side of the road to monitor motorists’ speed, but argued it was not enough to ensure student safety.

“I don’t know what it is going to take before the university takes proper action,” he said.

“Some disabled student have come to me and said they will not cross the road as they feel too worried to put themselves into the path of cars without a clear crossing point and the lack of real definition between the kerb and the road is also a real problem for guide dogs.

“Without a zebra crossing near the new plaza area, there is no trigger for drivers to slow down.

“There needs to be greater education and signage, but that undermines the very point of a ‘shared space’.

“Some people may argue for the theory of ‘shared spaces’, but there is a big difference between a theory and how it has materialised on campus.

“The University have done a good job of making the campus look glamorous for arrivals – but if that is at the expense of the safety of people on campus, that is absolutely unacceptable.”

A spokesperson from the University maintains the road is safe and that the campus has had a 20mph speed limit for ‘some years’.

They added that there were no plans to add further markings to the roads.

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