Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘naked streets

confuse drivers to cut crashes

with 7 comments

Irish Times

Dublin is going to try the system that Hans Monderman started in Drachten (Netherlands) and has also been used successfully, I am pleased to note, in Kensington High Street in London.

“Without any signs, traffic will automatically slow down and there will be fewer accidents because drivers will take more care,” he said confidently.

“The environment is what controls speed, not signs or rules. It’s psychological. Signs like ‘slow’, ‘stop’ and ‘yield’ are often not seen by drivers. If you take the signs and kerb lines away, and say ‘go figure it out yourselves’, you’re creating uncertainty – and that’s safer.”

Evidence from abroad, rather surprisingly, supports Mr Henry’s novel proposal. Five years ago, the Dutch town of Drachten removed signs and traffic lights as part of a “naked streets” experiment – and accident figures plummeted as drivers became more cautious.

The idea of “going Dutch” was taken up by Daniel Moylan, deputy leader of the Tory-controlled London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Mr Moylan said it was “about re-civilising the city, to the benefit of all people who use the roads. We want to stop this top-down system of signs and signals to keep drivers and other road users apart, and give everyone back a sense of shared ownership and responsibility.”

And that’s what was done in Kensington High Street three years ago.

Following the removal of pedestrian crossings and guard rails – those sheep-pen railings so favoured by traffic engineers to keep pedestrians corralled – accidents have been cut by 44 per cent, compared to 17 per cent for London as a whole.

Urban spring

I do not know if any of my colleagues from ITE read this blog – or indeed if any Canadian traffic engineers ever pay attention to what happens in Europe. I think it is about time we tried this out here. There are far too many signs and signals. Too much traffic, moving far too quickly, in most of the region. And noit nearly enough enforcement of the vast multiplicity of rules and regulations. So lets see somewhere that makes drivers think twice before they step on the gas.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 9, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Posted in Road safety

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