With the proportion of people living in the world’s cities set to rise to 70 per cent by 2050 it is becoming increasingly important to understand the ways in which urban areas accommodate people of different ages. Urban planners and designers have been grappling with ways to meet the challenges of accommodating diversity in today’s cities, and ‘shared space’ (Engwitch 2005; Department for Transport 2007; Hamilton-Baillie 2008) has been advocated as one way of doing so. This planning and design concept is used to frame a new philosophy in street planning, which is based on all users taking responsibility for their impacts on other users. Such ‘users’ are mostly differentiated according to travel mode, but here we focus on the intergenerationality of shared space; with a critical approach to the intergenerational sharing of certain spaces and the co-construction of generational differences and space. In particular, generation, in close affiliation with age, becomes manifest through urban rhythms, and in particular rhythms of speed. Hence in this chapter we became rhythm analysts calling ‘upon all [our] senses’ (Lefebvre 2004, 31) and pursuing a necessarily interdisciplinary approach. The contention of this chapter is that particular spaces reveal intergenerational mobilities (Murray 2015) in ways that are often obscured, so that the mobility aspirations of particular groups of people become marginalised. One such space is ‘shared space’, an example of urban design that seeks to endure ‘on people’s terms’ (Gehl 2010). ‘Shared space’ as a design tool created by Dutch transport engineer Hans Monderman, seeks to reconfigure street space, and in particular, street intersections, so that the semiotics of the space are disrupted. This in turn interrupts the usual practices of street space and the hierarchies within it. As the street is no longer marked out for cars to pass through in designated linear rhythms, and pedestrians to follow a code of compliance, the space becomes, to some extent, re-appropriated. It is argued that at the heart of ‘shared space’ is a determination to slow

down or freeze urban movement. In a ‘hypermobile’ society where people of particular ages are subjugated by the pursuit of speed, this unique space can reveal potential for improving the lives of people of all ages in cities. At the

same time, there has been much criticism of this approach to street design, especially from cycling organisations, in relation to claims that ‘shared space’ represents a panacea for urban traffic problems. The DfT appraisal of the implementation of shared space schemes found that it impacted positively on traffic levels only if traffic flow and speed were below an optimum level. So on roads like Exhibition Road in London that have high volumes of traffic, the relatively high-cost improvements have been called into question. This is a valid critique in the context of a broader geopolitical context in which the notion of ‘public space’ is transforming. We are arguably amid a crisis in urban public space heralded by a retreat to private and semi-private spaces, which, Alves (2007) argues, is due to a weakening of the political dimension of the city and a redefinition of the notion of shared urban life. This, it is argued, is partly due to the prominence of the car, and spaces for the car in cities. But ‘shared space’ does take the car to task. It is the car, rather than the pedestrian that is potentially subjugated and there is hence potential to contribute to a critical investigation of the micro-politics of street spaces. Street spaces are usually set out in such a way as to privilege automobility and the embeddedness of a culture that gives priority to cars in urban space, where speed is privileged over slowness. This gives rise to the observation by John Urry at the beginning of his book that paved the way for a mobilisation of thinking in sociology that ‘it seems as if all the world is on the move’ (Urry 2007, 3). At the same time there is recognition that this increasing mobility is uneven, as full access is only possible by particular groups, including according to age. People are excluded from the available opportunities in street spaces according to age, as streets are designed to function as efficient thoroughfares rather than spaces of habitation. In this chapter we engage with the ways in which these spaces offer

opportunities for people of different ages to ‘be’ in urban street space. These are spaces that are, by definition, differentiated and in constant negotiation. However, this negotiation has become obscured as automobility creates quasiprivate spaces of exclusion. Age here is considered from an intergenerational perspective, where we are all ‘interdependent beings’ who are always in a process of ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ (Uprichard 2008, 307). This allows a less linear focus on age, which is considered relational to other ages. In turn the relationality of age allows us to think about the ways in which rhythms of age overlap as rhythms of slowness and speed overlap and intersect in public space (Lefebvre 2004). It follows therefore, that a focus on speed can make embodied experiences of marginal groups more visible and this becomes possible in ‘shared space’ as opposed to spaces designed for speediness, where interactions become less distinct (Robertson 2007). ‘Shared spaces’ are spaces of slowness, or slowed-down-ness, and this can not only make visible different rhythms of movement but also lead to re-appropriations. As Jan Gehl, the designer of Brighton’s ‘shared space’ attests: ‘by creating a new type of street in the city and in the UK: Brighton now has England’s first shared space street where cars are welcome – but on people’s terms’ (Gehl 2010). The concept of shared

space becomes a means to re-appropriate space as well as to share it (HamiltonBaillie 2008). By reconfiguring the materiality of these spaces, modal hierarchies, which discriminate according to age, are rewritten. Speed can make some embodied experience invisible. People who are marginalised from society, such as older and homeless people, are characterised by their lack of speed and so difference is understood as dependent on speed differential. Slowing down can make difference visible, as these differentials are open to scrutiny. Here, therefore we acknowledge the potential for an overdetermination (Sennett 2006) of urban space and focus on the social production of space (Lefebvre 1991) through the generative relations of the spatial and the social.