Road Kill

2004-12-07

In an article entitled Roads Gone Wild, we read about a new approach to traffic design, spearheaded by traffic engineer Hans Monderman in the Netherlands:

What was once a conventional road junction with traffic lights has been turned into something resembling a public square that mixes cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. About 5,000 cars pass through the square each day, with no serious accidents since the redesign in 1999. "To my mind, there is one crucial test of a design such as this," Monderman says. "Here, I will show you."

With that, Monderman tucks his hands behind his back and begins to walk into the square -- backward -- straight into traffic, without being able to see oncoming vehicles. A stream of motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians ease around him, instinctively yielding to a man with the courage of his convictions.

The article also quotes Ian Lockwood, former transportation manager for the city of West Palm Beach, as follows:

"The cities that continue on their conventional path with traffic and land use will harm themselves, because people with a choice will leave. They'll go to places where the quality of life is better, where there's more human exchange, where the city isn't just designed for cars. The economy is going to follow the creative class, and they want to live in areas that have a sense of place. That's why these new ideas have to catch on. The folly of traditional traffic engineering is all around us."

That reminds me of some comments I've been wanting to make about the notion of the so-called creative class, but I'll save that for another blog entry.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal