February 4, 2005

shared space

Here's more on the new Dutch approach to traffic management (Blogged here previously), which is about to be tried in London's Museumland area...

...The idea of "shared space" is to denude a street of most of its conventional markings and features and create a different urban landscape in which motorists and pedestrians are put on an equal footing, so to speak. Drivers start to behave in a very different way amid the new uncertainty, moving slowly, making eye contact with pedestrians, and becoming aware of much more than whether the lights have gone red. Or so the theory goes.

Evidence from Dutch towns is impressive. Safety records have improved, local officials report, and accidents, when they do happen are far less serious, because of the slow speeds.

Yet overall cross-town speeds are no slower than before, because intersections are far more fluid and snarl-ups are rare...

Actually this is something we've all experienced. Imagine you're in the parking lot at the end of the ball game, and you slowly drive forward while people stream all around you. No one gets hurt. And the bit about overall speed being no slower rings true to me. City traffic often seems to me to move faster than traffic in the suburbs, where you may have three lanes in both directions, but you have to wait at each traffic light for the North-South traffic, then the North South left-turn lanes, then the East-West left-turn lanes...torture.

Posted by John Weidner at February 4, 2005 2:57 PM
Weblog by John Weidner