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Researchers ask for public’s views on Bristol’s shared spaces

Press release issued: 15 February 2016

Researchers at the University of Bristol are asking people for their views about ‘shared space’ in the city. Pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and others are often expected to share routes or public spaces in order to get around in Bristol. Sometimes this works well, but at other times it can cause difficulties.

From mid-February until mid-March 2016, the research team is inviting people in Bristol to give their opinions from using Facebook and Twitter. The collated opinions will form the basis for further investigation of these shared spaces, including monitoring and intervention. A map and instructions can be found on Facebook at and the team’s Twitter handle is @ShareBristol.

The project is a collaboration between Bristol academics Dr Suzanne Audrey, Senior Research Fellow in Public Health, Dr Ute Leonards, Reader in Neuropsychology, and Dr Dima Damen, Lecturer in Computer Vision. The team has received funding from the Cabot Institute, the University’s cross-disciplinary research institute, which focuses on today’s social and environmental challenges.

Second year computer science student Tuana Celik created social media webpages for the Shared Bristol study. She said: “The platform enables people who live in Bristol to easily give their opinion on shared places around Bristol, and view other people’s comments. They are free to place their comments on a map of the city. As the map gets populated, we will be able to get a clearer view of our city’s shared spaces.”

Dr Suzanne Audrey is a director of the Supporting Healthy Inclusive Neighbourhood Environments health integration team (SHINE HIT) with Bristol Health Partners and has a particular interest in walking. She said: “If pedestrians experience difficulties in sharing space with other modes of transport, it can reduce the opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to get out and about in their neighbourhoods. This can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health.”

Dr Ute Leonards’ expertise is in the study of visual perception and attention across the human life span, and their dependence on context. Her work with the Bristol Vision Institute (BVI) concentrates on how the visual environment impacts on our ability to navigate it safely and easily. She is keen to investigate whether changes to the appearance of shared space could improve the experience for the different users.

Dr Dima Damen is interested in video analysis and activity recognition. She has previously worked on a number of challenging problems including bicycle theft detection and industrial workflow monitoring, and is part of the SPHERE project aiming to build a sensor platform for healthcare monitoring in residential environments. Dima is keen to apply this expertise to shared space in the outdoor environment.

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