I could see this happening in San Francisco. It could potentially remove more cars from use, thus reducing the demand for carbon fossil fuels.
Would this work in your city?
What are your thoughts?
GAMRican, full disclosure, I work for one of the agencies that would have a key role in implementing these in SF. We'd love to install more. I'd recommend anyone who thinks they can't work to take a look at Linden Street in the Hayes Valley, or heck, just take a trip down some of the many alleys in Chinatown.
Another good example would be to take a look at Jack London Square in Oakland. Oakland is more auto-oriented than SF, but it still seems to work.
Unfortunately, SF interprets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) more strictly than just about any other municipality, and trying to design around these requirements ultimately defeats the purpose of the shared space. The reason the streets can be safer than conventional streets is because they are designed so that it's impossible to speed through them (and speed is by far and away the most important factor in how injured someone is after a collision). This "slow" design happens in part because there are no clear boundaries between pedestrian and auto space. However, that runs completely counter to ADA guidelines.
I think these can be implemented over time, but it will take some cultural change, from both motorists and disabilities advocates.
I'll make the assumption that you are an "Urban Planner" or other related professional. I too touch professionally on this topic thread through "Emergency Management" and "Urban Forestry" related work I do.
True on the observations of Linden Street and Jack London Square. And, the point about "speed" appears to be a key factor in what makes shared space more "civilized" and able to work.
Your point on the ADA is something I did not consider, and is an overarching set of United States national compliance requirements which would really need thinking through. As in, "How might specific features of shared space be mapped to demonstrate compliance with ADA?, and "What are the gaps which need innovative solutions to bridge the gaps?".
As a pedestrian who rides public transporation and rarely drives in SF, I am almost continually aware of the speed of bicycles and motorized vehicles as I walk around the city. I have to be aware or I'm sure I will die a violent, traffic related death!
I continually say an internal "Yay!" every time I see some infrastructure change which constricts the volume of private motorized traffic (i.e. 1-person in a car), and slows the volume of private motorized vehicular traffic. I also say an internal "Yay!" every time I see some infrastructure change which improves the relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency of human powered (e.g. bicycle, skateboard) and motorized public transit. Note, I did not specifically use the words "volume" and "speed" on that last sentence.
My thought is that the more of a pain in the a$$ and expensive it is to own and operate a personal motorized vehicle in SF while at the same time making it more desirable and less costly to use human powered and motorized public transit options, the more of a shift from one mode to another will occur. I change when I have the right mix of pain and desire. I'm making the assumption that other people do the same. And of course, the rich will generally be able to suffer the cost pain more than the less rich.
Certainly, there will be challenges going forward. However, with cities continuing to grow, private motorized vehicles seem less like a sustainable, effective and efficient mode of transportation for our planet.