Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Libertarian traffic control
The ideas of Hans Monderman of the Netherlands: roads without signs, traffic lights or sleeping bobbies
For Monderman it is not signs that should dictate how to drive, but the road itself. It’s not the government or “civil servants” who should legislate traffic; it’s the human drivers who should negotiate their way.

The current system of traffic — of lights and signs, of separating pedestrian, car and cycling traffic — doesn’t work, he said. It actually erodes people’s quality of life.

He believes in shared space and in the idea of bringing all traffic together so that the car driver can negotiate with the pedestrian and so on.

This, he said, necessitates introducing risk.

Most traffic systems try to minimize risk, but Monderman says “manage it.” When there’s a perception of risk, people slow down and pay attention to what’s going on around them, he maintains.

This involves giving back responsibility to civilians.

“Public space is important,” he said. “When you remove it, where can you learn to be a free civilian?”
A possible US application of his ideas

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