Bad drivers and shared living space

Columnist Donald Kaul has an interesting column in this week's Springfield News-Leader:
When a town in his district comes to Monderman for advice, he tells them: Remove the traffic lights and speed signs, erase the center lines dividing the streets, get rid of the speed bumps, bicycle lanes and pedestrian crossings. Oh yes, the sidewalks have to go too.

"All those signs are saying to cars is 'This is your space, and we have organized your behavior so that as long as you behave this way, nothing can happen to you,'" Monderman told The New York Times. "That is the wrong story."

What he believes should replace those rules is the concept of shared space, where drivers and pedestrians and bicycles are equals and depend on mutual courtesy to get along. . . .

He doesn't claim that the system would work everywhere, but it has worked in bustling town squares around Holland and he thinks it will work elsewhere.

It's a romantic concept but, as an American driver, I'm skeptical. Bad driving has become the rule rather than the exception on American roads.
Incidentally, when Monderman says that the system won't work "everywhere" is not saying that it will work in Holland but not in Missouri. In fact it will work very well in the United States--people are people and drivers are drivers wherever you go. (Though Kaul may have a point, too, that Americans are becoming more and more tolerant of worse and worse driving, and little effort is being spent on changing driving behavior.)

But these ideas are meant to applied in places like neighborhoods, downtown areas, city squares, and the like. They are not intended for, and won't work, on high-speed interstates, expressways, and similar places.

More info about Monderman and his ideas here and here.

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