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From Martin Oetting comes a link to an article in Der Spiegel (in German), which he summarizes:

A small German municipality joined a Euro project in which road signs and all types of visible regulation of the inner-city traffic are abandoned in seven towns across Europe. Instead, all drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are asked (or expected) to more consciously pay attention to everyone else and negotiate the right of way and how and where to park “on the go” – for a more fluid and less rule-driven approach to traffic.

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3 Responses to “Traffic regulation by paying attention”

  1. on 24 Jun 2008 at 11:47 amRaj C

    By “all traffic signs” do they really mean all signs? Are stop signs, and and one-way street signs going to be left up? I Could possibly see how this cold work in a small city, but not in a city where you have tourists and other people unfamiliar with the streetscape.

  2. on 24 Jun 2008 at 3:52 pmdavid cushman

    I’ve heard of ideas like this before. Started in Holland I believe. They even got rid of kerbs to separate the pedestrian area from the traffic area of the streetscape.
    Works on the ‘big spike sticking out of the steering wheel’ principle. The signage and road furniture nannies us into a brain-dulled comfort zone.
    The rules get created on an adhoc basis – ideally with the best fit for the environment as it currently is.
    Makes a lot of sense, trusts in us as a social species, but doesn’t give up on all rules. I’m sure the criteria for ‘dangerous’ or ‘careless’ driving remain in force and can be applied.

  3. on 25 Jun 2008 at 3:57 amAlessandro Ronchi

    Donald Norman writes about this in his last book.

    When you feel too much confortable with something (i.e. driving your car or simply using a toaster) you tend to loosen your attention and then risks grow up.

    If you feel to be in danger you will be more careful and so the risk level decreases.

    This theory is already in use; think to traffic roundabouts: you know there is not a traffic light which tells you to stop or walk, so you have to pay more attention by yourself, reduce your speed and look around if anyone is arriving from the left or from the right. It seems to work and, if something go wrong, the reduced speed limits the damages.

    Regards, Alessandro