November 20, 2006

In a continent that loves regulation, drivers give anarchy a go

One of the new 'regulation-free' roundabouts (c) SpiegelConsidering Europe’s passion for regulating anything that moves (and most things that don’t), it’s a bit surprising to see European cities so specifically do away with rules. But that is what’s happening.

Planners in seven European cities are experimenting with motor vehicle anarchy, and the results have been surprising. From the article -

They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren—by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs.

Where else could we apply this idea?


- 5 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Andrew P

    It only works because they pave the streets with cobblestones. You can’t speed on cobblestones. In fact you have a hard time going more than 5 mph. If the streets were paved with regular asphalt, you would have a lot of dead pedestrians.

    20 Nov 2006, 13:09

  2. All you need is one driver who’s in a hurry and doesn’t want to give way, or a driver who’s mind is elsewhere, or a pedestrian who’s in a hurry etc…

    and you have speedy road death :)

    20 Nov 2006, 13:31

  3. Dan

    band roundabouts

    20 Nov 2006, 14:11

  4. Lee Camardella

    As a retired traffic accident investigator, accident reconstructionist and driving intructor, I agree! Except for parking restrictions. (too chaotic) Let me add one, more important, reason. A major reason for traffic/pedestrian accidents is ” The false sense of security that traffic controls provide” Just because you have a green light you assume that the other person will stop. Just because you are in a crosswalk you assume that the motorist will see you and yield. . We assume that traffic controls actually control traffic. That the center line will physically keep oncoming traffic on their side of the road. Etc., etc. This causes us to drive on “auto-pilot”. Watching for traffic lights and lane markings rather than the other motorists. Driving has become to easy. We can eat, drink, talk on our phones, etc. (Just follow the yellow brick road) Our brain goes into a sub- conscience mode and we drive unprepared for emergencies, not mindful of the potential dangers that are inches, milli- seconds away. I wittnessed proof of this phenomenon during the great Northeastern (US) blackout in the 1960’s in NYC when a massive power failure disabled all traffic signals. Motorists actually slowed or stopped at intersections and negotiated their way safely through the intersections. A major shopping mall in Bellevue, WA did not install crosswalks on it’s very busy roadway’s to remove this false sense of security. Comments?. Lee Camardella, Mercer Island, WA (USA)

    20 Nov 2006, 14:34

  5. I wouldn’t be surprised if this worked, or at least if something like this worked. Rules are odd things and sometimes they do the opposite to what you’d expect them to do. If the article is correct that 70% of road signs are ignored, then there’s at least some chance that getting rid of them will actually make things better.

    20 Nov 2006, 15:05


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