Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Blood-shot eyes bring traffic to a halt1"

There is a growing belief among traffic engineers that the best way to cut down on serious traffic injuries, and actually get you to your destination faster, is to get rid of traffic signs, traffic signals, lane markings, and even the distinction between sidewalks and pavements. Stop signs and crosswalks would be the first to go!

There is a theory for all of this: that government has assumed responsibility the safety for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians but that responsibility should be the individual's. I'm not sure if the explanation is blue-statish or red-statish.

The idea started with the Dutch, who love social experimentation, and spread to Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the US.

It practice what this means is build or rebuild roads that seem dangerous but thereby end up being safer. The technical terms is psychological traffic calming -- but a good analogy is a camp ground where cars, bikes, and people all mix freely in the same space with few if any accidents. In redoing existing intersections, traffic circles are usually installed, with no lane marking or signs telling anyone what to do. Vehicles, bicycles, and people all use the same circle -- drivers slow to gauge the intentions of crossing bicyclists and walkers. Negotiations over right-of-way are made through fleeting eye contact.

The pictures below are from the Dutch city of Drachten -- they are of the same intersection before and after the traffic stuff has been removed -- resulting in what are called naked streets. Oddly, cross-town travel in cities that have done this is quicker or about the same. Accidents still occur but they are less severe because of the slower speeds.To save time, please insert your own Missouri-driver joke here ______________

1 comment:

sleepyrn said...

I particularly like the roadside carwash they included. Very thoughtful. Or perhaps it is a shower for the homeless. Or BOTH - multipurpose -even better.
I like the car wash idea!