Monday, September 07, 2009

People Figure Stuff Out

I had no idea about this, but an interesting article about the Dutch village that eliminated traffic signals.

Can you imagine having no traffic lights or signs or any other way of keeping cars and people apart? The results would be dangerous chaos, right?

Well, they have a lot a faith in human nature in the small Dutch town of Drachten. Its main intersection is a busy place, where cars and trucks compete with people on bicycles, and others on foot.

The normal civic response - here and elsewhere - has been to put in more traffic lights, divide the roadway into lanes - control things. But the response in Drachten has been the opposite - they took the controls away.

A funny thing happened. The accident rate around the intersection went down - way down, from more than eight a year to fewer than two.

Another article. Brilliant. Excerpt:

The project is the brainchild of Mr Monderman, and the town has seen some remarkable results. There used to be a road death every three years but there have been none since the traffic light removal started seven years ago.

There have been a few small collisions, but these are almost to be encouraged, Mr Monderman explained. "We want small accidents, in order to prevent serious ones in which people get hurt," he said yesterday.

"It works well because it is dangerous, which is exactly what we want. But it shifts the emphasis away from the Government taking the risk, to the driver being responsible for his or her own risk.

"We only want traffic lights where they are useful and I haven't found anywhere where they are useful yet."

Mr Monderman, 61, compared his philosophy of motoring to an ice rink. "Skaters work out things for themselves and it works wonderfully well. I am not an anarchist, but I don't like rules which are ineffective and street furniture tells people how to behave."

Of course, John Stossel and John Staddon have made this argument in the U.S.


Norman said...

Interesting concept. I don't think I'd want to try this here, though. I'm not much of a fan of putting my life in the hands of the government, but I want to put my life in the hands of an 18 year old sorority pledge driving a tank her parents bought her even less

aub said...

I wonder how many pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists have begun avoiding this intersection.