Personal Responsibility & Trapello Rd.

Something to think about as we begin the redesign of Trapello Rd

We might take a lesson from Holland, which was the site of an enlightening traffic experiment a few years back.

Officials in the city of Drachten removed all traffic signs, controls and markings from the city center. Despite this free-for-all design, traffic flowed smoothly, pedestrians walked the streets safely and accidents plummeted. Motorists actually had to think about what they were doing and be mindful of others.

As the traffic guru behind the Drachten experiment commented: “The many rules strip us of the most important thing: the ability to be considerate. We’re losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior. The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.”

In the end, driving safely comes down to taking responsibility and paying attention. If we do, we will never be stranded and helpless.

Recently, Drachten received international attention for a traffic experiment known as shared space, a concept pioneered by Hans Monderman. Almost all traffic lights and signs have been removed in the town’s centre in an effort to improve traffic safety, based on the theory that drivers pay more attention to their surroundings when they cannot rely on strict traffic rules. Previously the town’s centre had an average of 8 accidents per year. In the first two years after the system was introduced, yearly accidents were reduced to 1

4 replies on “Personal Responsibility & Trapello Rd.”

  1. Rich, doesn’t this also describe the intersection of Concord, Common, and Leonard streets? That’s not a very pleasant place to drive, never mind bike or walk.

  2. Hmmm. I don’t remember saying “Pleasant” was a goal here, however, you do make my point. The bridge underpass is a dangerous, confusing intersection. Everyone who drives through there is forced to take responsibility for themselves instead of trusting to an arbitrary set of signage or signaling.

    I must admit, I’m guilty of responsibility abdication. If I cross a road with no walk signal or zebra stripes, I’ll look both ways, insure there’s no traffic, insure I’ll be safe. At crosswalks, I just trust the “walking man” light. I don’t look both ways, I simply trust that the silly blinking light is correct. It’s a bad habit.

  3. I actually think this is an interesting idea. However, to be clear the redesign of our road is entirely complete. We are at the construction phase and moving forward with a relatively innovative design, but a traditional design in the respect that it uses signs and lines.

    I think the Concord Avenue intersection is an example of how things work when there are no signs. Has its pros and cons.

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