Shared Surfaces

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Guide dog owner Eric and hid guide dog

Guide dog owner Eric has not visited his local town centre alone since it was converted into a shared surface street over two years ago. Now he has written an open letter to the Government asking for change. Sign it here.


a guide dog owner and dog on a shared surface

Shared surfaces are when the road and pavement are built at the same level, removing the kerb so that cars, buses, cyclists and pedestrians share the same surface. Shared surface streets are dangerous for blind and partially sighted people who rely upon the presence of the kerb to know they are on the pavement and not in the road.

The redevelopment of an area with a shared surface without effective separation between areas used by pedestrians and vehicles has significant implications for blind and partially sighted people, as well as other vulnerable pedestrians who may also be at risk. Guide Dogs believes that by introducing shared surfaces without due regard for the concerns of blind and partially sighted people, local authorities may be in breach of their duties under the Equality Act 2010 [DDA for Northern Ireland] which requires local authorities to play their part in making society fairer by tackling discrimination and providing equal opportunity for all. 

The Department for Transport have published a Local Transport Note on Shared Space (LTN 1/11) which emphasises the importance of stakeholder engagement and inclusive design. This LTN explicitly acknowledges that poorly design shared space schemes can be problematic particularly for blind and partially sighted people.

We have commissioned various research projects into the issue over the years to help with our work on this issue.




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Shared surface graphic (bricks tilted)

“The area has no definition between the road and the pavement. I found myself walking directly across a road in front of a car as I hadn't realised it was a shared area. The area is also lacking in colour definition meaning that pavement, road, benches and street ornaments are all the same colour.”



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