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Exhibition Road Project Under Fire

Jun 19 2009 13:59
The Exhibition Road project has once again come under fire from the disabled, local residents and the French government - just days before an annual festival.
Some groups "fart in ze general direction" of Exhibition Road...

The redevelopment of Exhibition Road, involving the removal of all street furniture and pavements to create a "shared space" between cars and pedestrians, has once again come under fire.

Over one-hundred members of Guide Dogs for the Blind and The National Federation of the Blind have staged a protest outside City Hall this week, following a similar protest in Exhibition Road itself in mid-May. They argue that the shared street space will endanger visually impaired pedestrians, because those with sticks and guide dogs use the kerb to navigate safely.

I acknowledge that shared space is not a traditional design approach in the UK, but I do not consider that this would diminish the safety of road users.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson

The West London Residents' Association has also taken a strong stance against the plans; work on which has already commenced and is expected to be completed in late 2011. They have argued that the disabled, elderly and young children will all be adversely affected.

Councillor Nicholas Paget-Brown, of Kensington and Chelsea, has said that "the shared space design brings substantial benefits for other groups such as wheelchair users, those with limited mobility and parents with pushchairs", insisting that the "100 personal injury accidents in the last three years alone" mean that the shared space is now urgently needed. However, a shared space that has now been installed in Holbein Place, outside the Salone Square tube station, has already been blamed for several "near misses" between cars and pedestrians.

Although London Mayor, Boris Johnson, declined to meet this week's protesters, he did release a statement later on. Mr Johnson said that "it is vital that we get it right". He has attempted to reassure visually impaired road users that those responsible for the project "will make sure that there is a differentiation in street surface to make them usable to all."

The needs of all users should be taken into account in any infrastructure project. But shared space does not make life hazardous.
Henning Thomsen. Practice manager, Gehl Architects

Meanwhile, Sarah Gaventa, director of Government advisory body Cabe Space, has said that guide dog users are "very single-issue based", accusing them of not offering "any better solutions".

These aren't the only groups complaining at the changes, however. Significant political pressure is now also being applied by the French government, who are unhappy about 2,000 buses each day being re-routed past the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, the science and technology centre and the French language institute - all of which are situated in Cromwell Place. They have lodged complaints with various bodies involved in the project, and also the Foreign Office.

Routes 14, 74, 414 and C1 are all now stopping in Cromwell Place, due to the changes now implemented in the South section of Exhibition Road. The French Embassy, along with local residents, have complained that they were "not consulted". As well as the new security concerns that this brings, they also worry that the increased air pollution will be dangerous to the 3,500 children at the Lycée Français.

A great error. It was simply awful.
Dr David Bonnett, talking about his support for the Holbein Place changes

Residents of Cromwell Place, where homes come with a £2million price tag, also say that they have not been consulted about aspects of the change. Some of these residents, along with local workers, have aired their views on various online messageboards. They complain about the removal of a tree and statue from the street. Another goes as far to call the re-routing of the buses "illegal", accusing the council of using a "temporary traffic order" to introduce permanent changes.

Ex-Monty Python star, Michael Palin, took over as President of the Royal Geographical Society on June 1st. The RGS is also a member of the "Exhibition Road Cultural Group", but only time will tell whether Palin will have anything to say on the matter or not.

The criticism has come just days before a large event organised by The ERCG. The annual "Exhibition Road Music Day" takes place this Sunday, with activities and performances taking place throughout Exhibition Road, including various groups from Imperial College.

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Discussion about “Exhibition Road Project Under Fire”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Jun 19 2009 14:20

Work to be completed in late 2001? Well, this is Britain, things tend to get delayed a little....

Jun 19 2009 15:08

That should have said 2009. I'm having to take out and shoot a lot of my writers at the moment. ;o)

3. ..   
Jun 19 2009 15:41

well it now says 2011 so go for the kneecaps first so they feel it and stop making mistakes.

Jun 19 2009 16:15

Nope. Me that needs kneecapping. 2011 is correct.

Jun 19 2009 17:46

I can understand why people are against this project. Exhibition road does have heavy traffic, and the area around South Kensington station quite congested; more buses being redirected around there will not help. Furthermore, the safety of the large number of school children who are always visiting the museums (particularly in the school holidays) could be at risk. Would they have put forward this project for a road which does not have an underground footpath running beneath it?

And as for the concerns about the air pollution for the french school children, maybe they should stop smoking at the age of 10 instead ;-P

6. pfft   
Jun 20 2009 00:53


F**k you

Jun 20 2009 10:57

Just thought I'd share this little comment from Rogan in Irving, who posted on the "This is London" website...

"...the children will have to breathe in unacceptable levels of traffic fumes from the buses" - so they want some other people to have the fumes instead (clue - bus routes -usually- go where people need to travel so there will be people elsewhere too, it's one of their little indiosyncracies).

Jun 20 2009 11:54

It's a shame no-one with a clear head and shallow pockets suggested that they simply relocate parking provision, retaining a kerb and single carriageway, and widen the pavements to Oxford Street width. Everybody's happy.

Jun 20 2009 19:37

Blind people are a single issue group. That's no reason to ignore their voice though. I'd have thought their views were very salient when it comes to pedestrian safety.

10. @9   
Jun 22 2009 00:20

Precisely. If we're going to ignore anyone, ignore the French.

Jun 22 2009 01:57

We'll do what we like with our cities thank you, France.

12. Flower   
Jun 22 2009 08:06

"...the children will have to breathe in unacceptable levels of traffic fumes from the buses"

Rogan in Irving = Moron

If you don't understand why go and look at a bus exhaust.

Jun 22 2009 08:37

If they're concerned about excessive exhasut fumes then perhaps they should relocate away from the most polluted stretch of road in the UK (corner of Crowell Road and Queen's Gate). A slight relocation of bus routes won't make a whole lot of difference.

The only slightly upsetting thing is if they have removed the sculpture that sat in the midddle of the road. Britain needs more public art - not less.

Jul 10 2009 07:09

The quotation marks are the comment I was responding to - that children (being used as the reason why buses shouldn't be allowed there) there would have to breath exhaust fumes. I merely pointed out that those exhaust fumes are going to be breathed in where ever the buses get re-routed to.

If that's your idea of moronic, then you've got a bit of a problem. Elsewhere it's called logic, or extrapolation.

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