‘Shared spaces’ have become increasingly popular in UK towns and cities over the past 20 years. The concept is intended to make it easier and more enjoyable for pedestrians to walk and share road areas with cyclists and vehicles. Most shared spaces are ‘open plan’ and have minimalistic designs. Blocking objects, such as sign-posts, seating areas, and traffic lights are generally removed.

The overall idea is to provide increased journey ambience that prioritises pedestrians over cyclists and motorists. But shared spaces are not without their problems. Various safety issues can occur if a lack of careful planning and risk assessment is not completed during the design stage. This can cause injury – or even worse. Below, we detail some of the problems with shared spaces and recommend tactile surfaces as one method to make shared spaces safer.

Problems of shared spaces

While shared spaces have been demonstrated to increase user satisfaction for many sections of society, some criticise the design concept on the grounds of safety. Many examples of shared spaces do not help but actually hinder pedestrians. Especially the more vulnerable. Many elderly people and pedestrians with disabilities, such as blindness or without the ability to walk without aids, encounter safety issues when using shared spaces. Poorly designed spaces can be challenging to navigate safely.

One example is having an unfamiliar layout that increases danger. Another is a lack of transition between pathways and areas traffic is permitted to travel. This is why it is important that all sections of society are consulted at the design stage. Local councils can improve safety and satisfaction by deploying a range of measures, both at the design stage and during the implementation. One example is the use of tactile surfaces for anti-slip and hazard warning purposes.

Tactile surfaces make shared spaces safer

Tactile surfaces are anti-slip surfaces that perform a range of benefits. ‘Bobbled’ paving stones are a common example of a tactile surface. The key benefit is to alert pedestrians of potential danger. A typical tactile surface has a deliberate change of texture, unlike the surrounding walkway or path. This alerts users to changes in incline, such as before a gradient or staircase. They keep walkers safe in dangerous situations, such as by highlighting sudden drops on railway stations. And they help blind and partially sighted pedestrians by providing advanced warning of obstacles and other types of danger.


Local authorities and councils using shared spaces can benefit hugely from tactile surfaces. Not only do they comply with the Disability Discrimination Act and Part M of the Building Regulations, they improve user satisfaction and safety. Polydeck designs and manufactures bespoke, hard-wearing tactile surfaces for shared spaces. These are extremely hard-wearing tactile surfaces that are guaranteed for 30 years.

Choose Polydeck To Make Your Shared Space Safer

Polydeck are committed to supporting local authorities and communities improve their shared spaces without compromising the safety of pedestrians. Polydeck offers a wide variety of anti-slip flooring solutions to suit all requirements and budgets. If you would like to learn more about the range of products, please get in touch with the Polydeck team and we’ll work with you to improve pedestrian’s safety in your community’s shared space.

Check out the complete range of non slip solutions.