Sunday, August 24, 2008

Truly shared space

Given my attentiveness to the responsibility of sharing space, I love this article found by

I had heard about the Shared Space philosophy on NPR in 2003 or 04 (I recall a long discussion about this concept with someone I really need to track down again) and loved the idea of no rules creating hyper-awareness.

It's sort of like the rules of water.
On the water, the right of way goes to the vessel that cannot change course as quickly.
Speedboats must yield to sailboats.
Jet skis to kayaks.
And EVERYBODY yields to freighters.

For the most part, not knowing what someone else is going to do (or even knowing if they are aware of the rules) makes you a hell of a lot more aware and careful. Add to that a lack of "lanes," since on open water there are infinite navigational options.

I think our reliance on lanes and lights creates a false since of safety... which means less attention is paid.

So yeah, make downtown Cleveland a Shared Space, I'm up for the experiment...

UPDATE: As an aside regarding safety and attentiveness, there was this great New Yorker essay about SUVs from 2004. It talked about the assumed safety that drivers feel due to the womb-like nature of the vehicles. One of the ideas it posed was to not worry about the small, fast two-seaters on the road, since due to their size and lack of height, they must be more attentive drivers than those in high, well-upholstered behemoths (Buick Braggadocio, anyone?). The concept of safe=distracted really resonated with me at the time. Especially since I was making a daily commute on 480... I always felt like a bug between the 18 wheelers and SUVs, on the verge of SQUISH at any moment.

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