Design = No sign

Arnoud van den Heuvel
August 23rd 2008

drachten

The Wilson Quarterly profiles the in January 2008 departed traffic engineer, Hans Monderman, of the "less is more" school of traffic control:

"(...) Previously, Monderman, like any good Dutch traffic engineer, would have deployed, if not an actual traffic light, the tools of what is known as “traffic calming”: speed bumps, warning signs, bollards, or any number of highly visible ­interventions.

But those solutions were falling out of favor with his superiors, because they were either ineffective or too expensive. At a loss, Monderman suggested to the villagers, who as it happens had hired a consultant to help improve the town’s aesthetics, that Oudehaske simply be made to seem more “villagelike.” The interventions were subtle. Signs were removed, curbs torn out, and the asphalt replaced with red paving brick, with two gray “gutters” on either side that were slightly curved but usable by cars. As Monderman noted, the road looked only five meters wide, “but had all the possibilities of six.”

The results were striking. Without bumps or flashing warning signs, drivers slowed, so much so that Monderman’s radar gun couldn’t even register their speeds. Rather than clarity and segregation, he had created confusion and ambiguity. Unsure of what space belonged to them, drivers became more accommodating. Rather than give drivers a simple behavioral mandate—­say, a speed limit sign or a speed ­bump—­he had, through the new road design, subtly suggested the proper course of action. And he did something else. He used context to change behavior. He had made the main road look like a narrow lane in a village, not simply a ­traffic-­way through some anonymous ­town. (...)"

By Tom Vanderbilt. Via boingboing.net | Read the whole article here: wilsoncenter.org

Related: Something missing in Sao Paolo? | Schöne Aussichten | On the Road | Car Navigation - follow the red line | Seperating Streets and Words | Harvesting Traffic Information Through GSM's | My dear co-editors, who hid that post of the amazing traffic flow in India?

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Koert van Mensvoort: Is the artificial womb frankenstein-like symbol of (male) engineers trying to steal the magical womb from women? Or… is it a feminist project and needed to reach through equality between the sexes? I personally lean towards the latter. To me it feels like progress if a girl can tell a guy to carry the womb for a change.

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