Thursday, January 6, 2011

Shared Space

Ryan Blum kindly shared a link to an '07 Washington Post piece about a European experiment with public space that still resonates with me. In the article, Craig Whitlock describes a promising experiment in which cities respond to the deadly mix of walkers, bikers, and motorists by doing something that may seem counterintuitive: they reduce regulation rather than expand it:

"This contrarian approach to traffic management, known as shared space, is gaining a foothold in Europe. Towns in the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain and Belgium have tossed out their traffic lights and stop signs in a bid to reclaim their streets for everyone."

Whitlock reported that the German city of Bohmte dismantled their traffic restrictions and left only two rules: a 30 mph speed limit and a requirement that everyone yield to the right. The thinking behind this bold move is to require people to be more aware of their surroundings, to force them to consider the impact of their interactions when they are not locked into an omnitopian web of anesthetizing rules.

Is it working? The Washington Post cited encouraging trends but also some doubts.

This summer, I hope to explore some European shared space myself!

Learn More: A Green Light for Common Sense

No comments: