Bath’s ‘first’ shared space area opens in Seven Dials

The 'shared' space at Seven Dials.
The ‘shared’ space at Seven Dials.

A project to improve public space with more focus on the needs of people walking and cycling has been completed in the Seven Dials area of Bath.

Daily, far more pedestrians than cars use the area around Seven Dials but they were previously confined to narrow footways. The designation of this area as a ‘shared space’, with substantial changes to reduce distinctions between road and footway, removes the notion of motor vehicles automatically having priority.

The 'shared space' notice at Seven Dials.
The ‘shared space’ notice at Seven Dials.

It increases the space available to pedestrians and improves accessibility, particularly for people with disabilities or those using pushchairs.

In a conventional layout, pedestrians and motorists are equally entitled to occupy the carriageway, but habitually pedestrians give way. In shared space, people have to be more aware of other users, communicating and co-operating rather than assuming they have priority.

Councillor Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “I’m pleased this project has been completed. This new administration is committed to making it easier for residents, businesses and visitors to get around Bath. The aim is for people to use this redesigned space courteously and considerately. Walking around will be easier and spending time in the area more pleasant.”

The work on a shared space in Lower Borough Walls
The work on a shared space in Lower Borough Walls

Seven Dials, incorporating Kingsmead Square and Saw Close, is the historic west gate of Bath the city where seven routes met and lies to the west of the city’s main thoroughfare. The improvements have been delivered thanks to a £1.2 million grant from the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition programme to improve the area for walking and cycling.

Doing away with pavement/road division in Stall Street.
Doing away with pavement/road division in Stall Street.

Director’s note: Seems to me this ‘shared space’ idea is also being tried out along Lower Borough Walls and the bottom end of Stall Street. Call it what you like its basically doing away with any definition between pavement and road. It ends up being a big space upon which cars, pedestrians and cyclists will fight for room. I remain to be convinced.

As far as Westgate Street is concerned – leading to this new shared space at Seven Dials – the ‘cycle’ markings on the road is faded. As a cyclist, l was shouted at by someone who told me l was going the wrong way in a one way street. It is two-way for cyclists.