Thursday, November 09, 2006

End of the road for traffic lights?

Reports have been coming out of Europe for some time: traffic lights do more harm than good. Indeed, even stop signs may no longer be the best approach. Some say that lane markings are also not helpful.

Why is this?

Apparently, by removing the devices that give motorists a sense of security, a sense of risk is introduced into the equation. And with risk, motorists tend to slow down and take fewer chances.

So, what's the solution?

Replace traffic lights and stop signs with roundabouts and other street furniture. Rather than telling traffic what to do with a sign or a signal, show them what to do with a curb, a traffic circle or other street furniture. Give pedestrians and bicyclists a separate path through the intersection, and let everybody sort it out on the scene.

How well would it work in a major city?

That remains to be seen... but I suspect that, outside of a downtown one-way grid, it would work extremely well. And, who knows -- in a one-way grid, it still might work out just fine.

But which major city would have the balls to try and pull it off?

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