Getting Rid Of Traffic Lights And Traffic Signs To Make Everyone Safer

from the figure-that-one-out dept

It's been a while since we've talked about this topic, but it's one that fascinates me. Back in early 2004, we wrote about a movement under way to have cities remove traffic lights and traffic signs to make the roads safer. You also open up the roads not just to cars, but to bikers and pedestrians as well. It sounds completely counter-intuitive, since those things are supposed to make the roadways safer and more efficient -- but city planners have found the opposite to be true. When you remove all of the guidance, it makes people (and that includes the bikers and pedestrians as well) much more cautious and careful -- so they tend to make fewer dangerous moves. On top of that, it actually makes the traffic flow much more smoothly, allowing people to get where they're going much faster, even if they drive slower. Because they have fewer full stops and long waits to deal with, it's actually much more efficient. There was another article later that year that made the same point, but we haven't heard much about it recently. Jeff Nolan points us to a more recent article that examines the situation in a Dutch town (which was also profiled in the earlier articles), saying that it's been working great. The number of severe traffic accidents has dropped (no deaths since they removed the traffic lights) and people say they get places much faster. They admit that it's confusing for newcomers, but that helps remind everyone else to continue to drive/walk/bike carefully and safely. Jeff wonders if the same counter-intuitive logic might also apply to computer security -- but that might be trickier. With driving, at least everyone needs to pass some sort of licensing exam where they should at least learn the basics of safe driving. While some have suggested similar things for computer users, it's still not the case. Also, the "penalty" for unsafe driving is much more immediate and potentially much more serious and painful. So, the incentives are much stronger to remain safe. Either way, it remains a fascinating concept, though, it still hasn't caught on in that many places.

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  1. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, 11 Nov 2006 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: profoundly retarded

    Back in early 2004, we wrote about a movement under way to have cities remove traffic lights and traffic signs to make the roads safer.

    this implies that the "movement" suggests that removing traffic lights and traffic signs in cities will make the roads safer. it's a vague statement insofar as whether or not this movement has merit.

    It sounds completely counter-intuitive, since those things are supposed to make the roadways safer and more efficient -- but city planners have found the opposite to be true.

    "the opposite" has not been found to be true, not in the generalized sense put forth in this statement and implied in the article. it has been found true in specialized circumstances that meet a "particular criteria"

    the original statement says there's a movement to remove signs and lights to make roads safer in cities and then the follow up is in agreement implying that removing road signs and lights in cities makes it safer, but this has only been shown in certain circumstances so that claim can not be made.

    about Scott Adams' point, it only remotely resembles this argument.

    You: Cooking vegetables in cajun spices makes people enjoy them more. They did a taste test in Mississippi and people liked them better so my statement is true.

    Me: that's retarded... you can't make that assertion because there are plenty of places where that taste test would fail. here's some examples...


    what your intentions of this article were or weren't i'm not sure, but the general implication of it is that removing traffic signs and lights in cities is good, that is a retarded statement... sorry to inform you on this... but i'll once again end with:

    Nor are shared-space designs appropriate everywhere, like in major urban centers, but only in neighborhoods that meet particular criteria.

    Monderman concedes that road design can do only so much. It doesn't change the behavior, for instance, of the 15 percent of drivers who will behave badly no matter what the rules are.

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