New ‘shared space’ plan proposed for Acorn Road
Local traders, residents and an environmental group are keen to put into action a proposed plan for Acorn Road raised by local environmentalists in 2012 that will recast the area as a ‘shared space’ for pedestrians and vehicles.
This scheme was published by Transition Jesmond in conjunction with shop owners and residents. It is – they hope – a less radical solution to redesigning Acorn Road than solely pedestrianising the area. The plans were devised following the Acorn Road traffic and street survey carried out by Transition Jesmond in autumn of 2012.
The proposal, which mimics those already in place in many other cities, including large swathes of Amsterdam, encourages removing the idea that any mode of transport has priority over others by redesigning the street. It bears equally in mind the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
To achieve this, parking from the north side of the road will be removed, the carriageway narrowed and the footway widened. The plan also suggests the road be made one-way east to west to reduce the total through flow of traffic.
Though some parking spaces will be removed, the proposals will resite them in neighbouring streets.
Jesmond resident and worker at Beyond Green, Neil Murphy, said that “Acorn Road is a popular and successful street, but it can get even better. This proposal is about making it less of a ‘through’ space and more of a ‘to’ space, a more pleasant place to be so that people naturally spend more time – and money – there. Since everything [will be] pedestrian, while they are using the shops and services on Acorn Road, we think everyone will benefit.”
The autumn 2012 street user survey found that 60% of visitors of Acorn Road arrive by foot or bike. It also discovered that those that come by car to tend to stay for longer per visit, though pedestrians visit the road more often and account for 65% of total spend on Acorn Road. An equal number of people were most enthusiastic about making the road more accessible for pedestrians.
Tony Waterston, chair of the Acorn Road improvement group, told JesmondLocal that ”these results are in line with surveys carried out in other shopping streets in residential neighbourhoods: most people shop on foot and walkers spend more than car users as they visit more frequently.
“However, people who drive are also important customers, and local parking is seen as essential. Our proposal would make the street much more pleasant for those on foot including elderly people and children, whilst retaining use by shoppers coming by car.”
The plans for ‘shared space’ will now be circulated to traders and local residents and discussions with local councillors will take place on how to make them a reality.