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Improving the Safety of Local Streets


The paper argues that insufficient attention is paid to the design of local streets. Ample guidance is available on the design of new residential roads, though not all local authorities adopt a modern approach. In existing residential streets there are many neglected opportunities to bring about major improvements in road safety and environmental quality. The paper shows how these opportunities can be exploited through physical design rather than legal restrictions. Specific possibilities are described and illustrated. The paper is intended for all those concerned (professionally or otherwise) with the design, quality, maintenance and safety of local roads. 

This was Tim Pharoah's early offering to the world of street design and traffic calming, which continued over the following decades, with Devon's Traffic Calming Guidelines (1991) as perhaps his best known contribution to the field.

Redesign or regulation?

In a review of the book (in The Planner, 1984) Terence Bendixson doubted whether the call for calming by the physical redesign of streets rather than by speed and other regulation would ever be feasible due to the higher costs involved. However, most of the example locations in the book (where Tim Pharoah argued for physical redesign), have now indeed been redesigned and improved in the ways suggested.

The success has been down to suggesting relatively small scale measures to bring about significant improvements, rather than complete street reconstruction, as was typical of the Dutch Woonerven at the time.

Good ideas will endure

"Improving the Safety of Local Streets" was the first time that Tim Pharoah explained the problems of large corner kerb radii, and was maybe the first time ever that the issue was specifically addressed in print. He was able to present the argument again in "Traffic Calming Guidelines" (1991) and again in "Manual for Streets" (2007). Small corner radii as a desirable feature of local street design have thus entered mainstream guidance, but unfortunately not always mainstream practice!

Book TitleImproving the Safety of Local Streets
Book AuthorTim Pharoah
PublisherSouth Bank Polytechnic, London 1983
ISBN0 946147 00 0


Street design, road safty, residential streets, pedestrian priority, traffic calming, Woonerf, design standards, kerb radii