Wednesday, August 27

Why naked streets work

I've been coming across a bunch of references to a new book called Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt. It's all about how humans and automobiles interact with each other, something that's been a common thread on this blog. I haven't read the book yet, but this article of Vanderbilt's in the Wilson Quarterly is fascinating. Vanderbilt explores the ideas of a pioneering Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman, who insisted that "less is more" when it comes to traffic signage. He managed to remove most traffic signals from two Dutch villages in order create a social environment between different road users - and with demonstrably positive results:

"Without bumps or flashing warning signs, drivers slowed, so much so that Monderman’s radar gun couldn’t even register their speeds. Rather than clarity and segregation, he had created confusion and ambiguity. Unsure of what space belonged to them, drivers became more accommodating. Rather than give drivers a simple behavioral mandate—­say, a speed limit sign or a speed ­bump—­he had, through the new road design, subtly suggested the proper course of action. And he did something else. He used context to change behavior. He had made the main road look like a narrow lane in a village, not simply a ­traffic-­way through some anonymous ­town."

No comments: