"Hans Monderman is a traffic engineer who hates traffic signs. Oh, he can put up with the well-placed speed limit placard or a dangerous curve warning on a major highway, but Monderman considers most signs to be not only annoying but downright dangerous. To him, they are an admission of failure, a sign - literally - that a road designer somewhere hasn't done his job," starts an intriguing profile in this month's Wired magazine.
"Monderman is one of the leaders of a new breed of traffic engineer - equal parts urban designer, social scientist, civil engineer, and psychologist. The approach is radically counterintuitive: Build roads that seem dangerous, and they'll be safer." One component of this idea is to trim back wide, superhighway-type road design and return to a more human scale.
In one Dutch village, "what was once a conventional road junction with traffic lights has been turned into something resembling a public square that mixes cars, pedestrians, and cyclists." Thsoe on foot, bicycle and motor vehicle have shared the space without serious accident since 1999.
This trend is actually making its way across the Atlantic to a few select portions of the New World. "In the US, traffic engineers are beginning to rethink the dictum that the car is king and pedestrians are well advised to get the hell off the road. In West Palm Beach, Florida, planners have redesigned several major streets, removing traffic signals and turn lanes, narrowing the roadbed, and bringing people and cars into much closer contact. The result: slower traffic, fewer accidents, shorter trip times," the Wired article notes.
Narrowing the roadbed. Not exactly what we ended up with on Rte. 30, where recent construction has made the street even more offputting and threatening to non-motorized travelers.