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Street signs increase danger on roads, warns CABE

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Street signs and barriers on Britain's roads are making towns and cities more dangerous, according to a recent report published by CABE.

The report, entitled This Way to Better Streets, calls for a new approach to street design, claiming measures installed to reduce risks are actually resulting in increased traffic speed and accidents.

Leading the debate is CABE Space's director Sarah Gaventa, who questions whether barriers and signs actually make people safer, adding that better design is needed to make the spaces work for motorists and pedestrians alike.

Gaventa said: 'The proliferation of signs, barriers and crossings could be making our streets more dangerous. We are not suggesting that removing them all is the answer, but for too long we have been designing streets for traffic, making them noisy, congested and cluttered, with people herded behind traffic barriers.

'Solving the problems of speeding and pedestrian safety doesn't mean more and more signs telling you to slow down and more protective barriers - it requires clever design.'

The body completed 10 case studies on streets in and around Britain's busiest towns and cities, and showed that where 'obvious safety measures' are removed, accident numbers actually fall, although they would fail current safety standards.

The removal of Kensington High Street's barriers has resulted in a 47 per cent decrease in accident figures, compared to a fall of 35 per cent across the borough as a whole.

And a decision to deliberately make the busy forecourt at Bristol Temple Meads train station more confusing, using the chaos as a safety device, sees pedestrians and motorists sharing the space. There have been no accidents in 13 years.

To read the report or find out more about the case studies, visit www.cabe.org.uk

by Richard Vaughan

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