Thursday, December 16, 2004

Make driving appear more dangerous to make it become safer

"Roads Gone Wild." By Tom McNichol, Wired 12(12): 108-110.

'The problem with current road designs are that driving and walking are assumed to be incompatible, and should be segregated. Traffic engineers adopt the idea that to increase traffic flow, just make roads wider - as roads became wider, roadside trees were cut down and other landscape elements removed. Road signs, rather than road architecture, enforced behavior.'

Pedestrians lost all their urban space.

"The strict segregation of cars and people turned out to have unintended consequences on towns and cities. Wide roads sliced through residential areas, dividing neighborhoods, discouraging pedestrian activity, and destroying the human scale of the urban environment."

Traffic engineer Hans Moderman suggests that most road signs are an addmission of failure. Imagine this - no street signs, no crosswalks, and no accidents. Driving shoud be made to seem more dangerous to make it safer.

The article discusses several case studies of intersections, road designs and experiemtns conducted in Europe that review the approach to traffic engineering, and thus urban design. Read "Roads Gone Wild".

It's good to know these are shared visions. But how long will it take to permeate the mindset locally?

1 comment:

Chu Wa said...

Thanks for the link, Siva, it's a refreshing angle to increase self-responsibility by making the road seems more dangerous.

Just to capture the recomendation here for quick reference:
How to Build a Better Intersection: Chaos = Cooperation

1. Remove signs: The architecture of the road - not signs and signals - dictates traffic flow.

2. Install art: The height of the fountain indicates how congested the intersection is.

3. Share the spotlight: Lights illuminate not only the roadbed, but also the pedestrian areas.

4. Do it in the road: Caf├ęs extend to the edge of the street, further emphasizing the idea of shared space.

5. See eye to eye: Right-of-way is negotiated by human interaction, rather than commonly ignored signs.

6. Eliminate curbs: Instead of a raised curb, sidewalks are denoted by texture and color.