Woonerfs a source of inspiration for securing against vehicle ramming

10-12-2019 | 21:04

Woonerfs a source of inspiration for securing against vehicle ramming

This article is originally written by Acquire Media and has appeared in Straatbeeld.nl


Although fortunately it has not happened in the Netherlands, surrounding  all had to deal with it before: terrorist attacks by use of a vehicle. And the general consensus is that it is only a matter of time before the Netherlands is also facing such a threat. But how do you protect citizens against this form of terror?


In recent years, among others Berlin, Barcelona and Nice have had to deal with attacks in which a vehicle was used as a weapon. In those situations, pedestrians are suddenly extremely vulnerable. Unsurprisingly, the obvious response where large concrete blocks sprouting up like mushrooms in busy pedestrian places in the Netherlands, Dick van Veen [formerly of Mobycon, currently self employed] tells us. At the international pedestrian conference Walk21, recently held in Rotterdam, he presented a number of alternative solutions for the concrete ‘Lego bricks’. Because let's face it, they don't look that nice at all.


Aesthetically pleasing shielding measures.

“The initial counter-reaction often is: we must shield ourselves from terror,” Van Veen explains. He shows examples of the already mentioned concrete Lego blocks, but also of parked trucks that have to stop other vehicles. “But this actually gives us a very unsafe feeling. So we have to approach things from a better angle and opt for more integrated solutions. A different kind of road layout with a proper separation of slow and fast traffic is an option, ”Van Veen illustrates. Like this, the design of the road itself makes it almost impossible to enter the area designated for slow traffic. Other solutions are reinforces but well designed street furniture with vehicle-stopping abilities or the so called Tiger Trap, through which vehicles get stuck and it is not possible to get into a pedestrian zone with a car.



But what if we want a shared space where cars, bicycles and pedestrians can enter freely? Then all of these solutions are not applicable. Consider, for example, residential areas, streets in inner cities or Shared Spaces. “The woonerf, the residential design concept from the seventees, might serve as a source of inspiration,” says Van Veen. Illustrating his point by the use of several photos he shows that, for example, installing tight bends and curves in a street makes it difficult to drive through that street at high speed.
Van Veen is currently working with CROW on a publication about measures against terrorism by use of a vehicle. This booklet will handle the process of how to approach this problem, as well as introduce design examples.