A Path to Road Safety With No Signposts. This profile of Dutch road safety engineer Hans Monderman is the most interesting article I've read in the New York Times in quite a while. At least in civilized countries like the Netherlands, roads in suburbs are safer without many signs and without sidewalks. It doesn't work for highways, and it may not work for the most built-up urban centers, but in mid-density areas,
To make communities safer and more appealing, Mr. Monderman argues, you should first remove the traditional paraphernalia of their roads – the traffic lights and speed signs; the signs exhorting drivers to stop, slow down and merge; the center lines separating lanes from one another; even the speed bumps, speed-limit signs, bicycle lanes and pedestrian crossings. In his view, it is only when the road is made more dangerous, when drivers stop looking at signs and start looking at other people, that driving becomes safer.
“All those signs are saying to cars, 'This is your space, and we have organized your behavior so that as long as you behave this way, nothing can happen to you,' ” Mr. Monderman said. “That is the wrong story.”
Instead of a regulated, dirigiste system, Mr. Monderman promotes roads that permit a decentralized self-organizing traffic system.
“This is social space, so when Grandma is coming, you stop, because that's what normal, courteous human beings do,” he said.
Spain, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Britain are trying it out, and the EU is doing a Europe-wide study.
The idea of running traffic a bit like the Internet — a self-organized anarchy working within the guidelines of set basic standards — is intensely appealing. It's also safe, at least in Europe: “there has never been a fatal accident on any of [Monderman's] roads.”
Of course, whether this could work in lawless Miami, where as Dave Barry once said 'everyone drives according to the laws of his home country,' is a different question.