Kerb your enthusiasm
25 September 2006
BBC Radio 4's In Touch programme explored inclusive design and the question of whether kerbs should always be a part of our streets.
Should kerbs always be part of our streets? This was the subject of BBC Radio 4's In Touch programme last night (26 September) featuring David Bonnett of the CABE-supported Inclusive Environment Group.
More and more schemes are coming forward where vehicles and pedestrians are not separated by the traditional kerb. Instead they move at the same level and pedestrians and vehicles are separated by other, more subtle means - the shared surface approach. This can produce simpler, more elegant streetscapes as well as encouraging safer behaviour. By introducing an element of uncertainty, both drivers and pedestrians take more care.
But some have voiced their concern about such schemes. Guide dogs and cane users rely on kerbs for wayfinding, so the introduction of shared surfaces is potentially a problem for visually impaired people.
For CABE, the issue is part of a more general debate about inclusive design. CABE promotes a design philosophy which aims to remove barriers that create undue effort and separation. Most streets are not inclusive environments - they create barriers for a range of people from wheelchair users to mums with buggies and tourists with luggage - and there is no one-size-fits-all design solution to address this. We need to be mindful of the needs of the wide diversity of people who may be using any particular environment, and give careful thought to design features which have an impact on a particular group.
CABE has just published The principles of inclusive design which sets out how we can achieve places that enable everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities.