German Town Scraps Road Signs to Increase Safety


Drachten roundabout

It started in the Dutch city of Drachten: Anarchy on the roads, no signs, no lights. Now they are trying in in the German town of Bohmte: no signs or lights, ripping up the sidewalks and asphalt and replacing it all with cobblestones. It's called "shared space," a concept developed by Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman.

Speigel notes: According to the concept, road users have to negotiate their behavior with each other, rather than have it prescribed by rules -- the idea being that people will pay more attention to what other road users are doing and hence cause fewer accidents. They report that the Drachten experience worked; accidents there have declined dramatically since the new regime was introduced."The many rules strip us of the most important thing: the ability to be considerate. We're losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior," says Monderman. "The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people's sense of personal responsibility dwindles."

Could this work in North America? As Hank noted in an earlier post, "Anarchy seems to breed courtesy, in Holland at least, and at the very least, it increases awareness." But in Holland and Germany, citizens don't have guns. ::Spiegel

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