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
    |333173|3|_||3, 12 Nov 2006 @ 5:09pm

    Ramblings

    The idea of Roundabouts works well in the UK, where many of the junctions on motorways use them on multiple levels (usually on bridges over the motorway) to save space and ease the traffic flow(not enough room for cloverleaves). Roundabouts only weork well when there is a rough balance of traffic on each road. One variation on the roundabout is the mini-roundabout, a six-twelve foot circle painted on the road, which you treat like a roundabout but drive over if you have to.

    Fior bad driving, thers always Cairo, where a Micheral Palin said when he visited there, it sounds like every car has been modified so that the accellerator and brake pedals are permenantly connected to the horn, the roads are about 12 lanes wide and everyone tailgates, but there are no accidents. Then threse Adelaide, OZ, where I have seen one particular driver near my school drive over a footpath get into the left - turn lane at least once a week, and others who work on the principle that a 4WD menas that you can drive where you like, so long as there are no police cars around (you'd be amazed at some of the more unusual manoevres I have seen, like driving through a reserve to get from one road to another, or driving at 70mph on the wriong side of the road, people whio drive through a piece of wasteland to avoid traffic lights (there are so many tyre tracks there it is a joke), and driving on footpaths to save time, a three point turn on Main North Road, a six lane road in rush hourm, when doing anything except going straight forwards at half the spedd limit is amazing, a man tried to drive up a guuided busway, but crashed, another drove straight accross the River Torrens when it was dry to save going over a the nearest bridge, another did another three point turn on the Mian North Road where it is a dual carriageway, then drove back down the centre reservation to the nearest gap in the fence, and then drove over a newly planted tree to get accross). Luckily, there are Stobie poles used to hold up electricity wires, which are a pair of I girders with a load of concrete between them, which do a good jod ob stopping cars and a reasonable job of paralysing the back seat passengers killing thiose in thefront

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