Friday, December 9, 2011

No Roads, No Sidewalks

An interesting experiment in sharing and road design.

From the Guardian (UK)...
Roads and pavements are rules, keeping hard cars and soft pedestrians apart. Lane markings, pedestrian crossings and steel railings are another layer of rules. What if we relaxed the rules a little? This is exactly what's happening at London's Exhibition Road.  
In the last 18 months, it has been ripped up and remade to a new design that all but abolishes the distinction between road and pavement. Instead, there's one continuous surface, cross-hatched dramatically in black-and-white granite. Pedestrians can wander where they like: they'll just have to negotiate the cars and bicycles.  
The idea is that when driving zones are heavily delineated, drivers tend to be on autopilot, focusing on other cars rather than pedestrians or cyclists. But 10 years ago, Kensington and Chelsea experimented with removing the railings from Kensington High Street and found that the number of pedestrian accidents dropped by 60%. It seems that when drivers are forced to be more aware and pedestrians are forced to take more responsibility for themselves, everyone is safer. Rules, it seems, were counterproductive.

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