New take on traffic calming
November 30, 2005 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Calm down. A new, humorous, attempt at "traffic calming". I know, I know, a lot of it was previously discussed. Some think it's a good idea (hey, we've even got some in my neighborhood!). But there are others who disagree. I never thought it would be such a heated topic! (or noteworthy by Wired, even.) Aaaah... the hell with it. Maybe the way to go is NO RULES.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan (16 comments total)
Interesting topic. Of course, the assertion in the final link is joke - I note the author didn't bother accessing road fatality statistics for China, because the results would have destroyed his anecdote.
posted by wilful at 3:31 PM on November 30, 2005

Kottke isn't one to get facts in the way of his pithy observations.
posted by keswick at 3:40 PM on November 30, 2005

It seems like this might just cause accidents by distracting the drivers.

As an aside, I wonder how many people have died because someone was distracted by one of those roadside billboards? Is it worth it?
posted by anomie at 3:41 PM on November 30, 2005

Here in Seattle, they go traffic-calming crazy, because it's much easier to prevent traffic from flowing thru residential neighborhoods, than it is to fix the overall transportation infrastructure that drives people into those neighborhoods. That being said, it's amazing the lengths people will go to in this city to fight taking the 'proper' traffic routes. On the walk home from one bus-stop, there's a street with a massive sign about "local traffic only"; the other end of the street is block on half it's width to make it a one-way-exit-only for people who live on that block. Yet every day, I see people go flying past the sign, going wrong way past thru the one-way gap. I've often thought about pushing some of the concrete curb bits that are in the area, out into the street to make a speed block (a bump has to have smooth sides, right?), just to laugh at all the folks who'd trash their suspensions. I'd really love to be standing there when it happens, and tell'm,

"I'll trade you a malicious mischief/vandalism charge for your traffic-crime, if you wanna call the cops on me...".

If only I knew a cop who'd go along with the trade.
posted by nomisxid at 3:43 PM on November 30, 2005

I can't believe that guy, preaching about how we have a 'sense of entitlement' for using roads to drive on. Apparently, in our postmodern world, expecting things that were designed and paid for by taxpayers to continue to serve their designed function is a 'sense of entitlement'. HIS use of the road (blocking it completely with a living room) makes sure nobody else can use it, and he's preaching at US for a sense of entitlement.

There's no need to drop speed limits further. 25 is more than adequate.

"NO RULES" is a false dichotomy.... it's not like we have to go directly from nanny state to anarchy. Roads are a shared resource and need rules on how to share them. These proposed rules suck, but that doesn't mean all rules are bad. They claim they're 'trying to take drivers off autopilot'. But most drivers are VERY GOOD on autopilot. Relatively speaking, we have very few accidents for the number of miles we travel in cars.

Their method will turn driving from a relatively easy, relatively low-stress exercise and turn it into All Rush Hour, All The Time... you'll always have to be paying attention as closely as you do in bumper to bumper traffic.

In a word, stupid.

These are all bandaids, trying to fix the fact that people don't focus on being polite anymore. THAT is the core problem... that's what needs to be addressed. And politeness goes both ways... if you're mad that cars drive too fast where your kids are playing, then have them play somewhere else.
posted by Malor at 3:52 PM on November 30, 2005

I hear they do this in Saudi Arabia too, and it sucks.

Culture probably plays a big part. Chinese people are polite, and Saudi's aren't. This might work in Iowa, but Not NYC (although the article states that it does work in NYC, so who knows...).

Perhaps coupled with a very strict, high standards for getting a driver's license (like the British)
posted by delmoi at 4:04 PM on November 30, 2005

But most drivers are VERY GOOD on autopilot. Relatively speaking, we have very few accidents for the number of miles we travel in cars.

Except when things are out of the ordinary, and they are totaly unaware of it.

"I'll trade you a malicious mischief/vandalism charge for your traffic-crime, if you wanna call the cops on me...".

Because who would want to see someone put in jail and forced to pay to fix their car if it meant paying a traffic ticket...
posted by delmoi at 4:07 PM on November 30, 2005

nomisxid, I feel your Seattleite pain. Over in Roosevelt there's an actual slalom course to prevent people from driving quickly through residential streets, and there's another one in Ravenna! On half the streets in Greenwood/Phinney there's parking allowed on both sides of the two-way streets, despite the fact that this means that only one car can get by at a time. But I don't think it really slows people down.

The tiny roundabouts sprinkled throughout the city are particularly silly, and dangerous. I saw a head-on collision between a truck and a car that happened because the truck cut off the roundabout when making a left-hand turn and the car was flying through the same roundabout in the correct direction.

I completely agree with you that what this city needs is some mass transit, not dangerous games on the neighborhood streets.
posted by gurple at 4:13 PM on November 30, 2005

I tried to find info on Cairo, Egypt, but no dice. While I was there, briefly, I noticed that, while there were probably "rules of the road", they didn't seem to be followed. But I never saw an accident. I know, not a very convincing argument. In fact, the company encouraged us to NOT drive while we were there. But there seemed to be an "understanding" of the chaos. Just sayin'.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 4:17 PM on November 30, 2005

I took a couple cab rides in Cairo. Between the crazy driving, the fact that I was in a cab, and the blaring music in Arabic, I felt exactly like I was riding with Bruce Willis in the cab chase scene in _The Fifth Element_. It was awesome.
posted by gurple at 4:19 PM on November 30, 2005

brilliant idea. i concur with that Wired article completely. we given these deadly weapons far too much leeway. it's time to start taking the roads back. they're not just for cars. they also should be for pedestrians, skateboards, bicycles, etc.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:47 PM on November 30, 2005

delmoi, I'm partly theorizing that as a first time offender, I'd only get a warning. Your point that the cop would make me pay for the damages is far too rational for my tastes. We're talkin about irrational revenge here, not the consequences =p
posted by nomisxid at 6:06 PM on November 30, 2005

nomisxid, cops don't give warnings to activists who engage in direct action.

That said, the cop also won't make you pay for anything. You'd have to be sued for that to happen. And the driver is not going to sue you when he can file an insurance claim instead. At that point, it's possible his insurance company might sue. However, this sort of incident has stubborn-neighborhood-activist-pr-shitstorm written all over it. If they're smart they won't touch it.

Most likely, the cop will write you a ticket. This ticket will probably just be a vehicle code infraction, not a criminal matter. This means you'll find yourself in traffic court. Traffic court is designed to efficiently extract money from speeders. It doesn't cope well with unusual situations. So if you show up with a lawyer, the ticket will be dismissed. If you show up alone, you'll get fined $100.
posted by ryanrs at 10:49 PM on November 30, 2005

BTW, get to know your lawyer before you do the action. These things have to framed properly or the court will just dismiss you as a malicious troublemaker. If your lawyer advises you to just stay out of trouble, then you have the wrong lawyer. You need a hardcore activist-lawyer who believes in your cause.
posted by ryanrs at 11:09 PM on November 30, 2005

From the Second Link:
... stop signs are used to slow traffic in many Canadian cities. Rolling "stops" have become a common practice.... Worse, many drive right through without heeding the signs at all. ...[A]s stop signs proliferate on side streets, cyclists assume the signs do not apply to them. All this sets a very bad example for children, who grow up knowing that adults do not stop at stop signs. ...[S]o much harm has been done, that respect for the stop sign as a traffic control device is disappearing.
Sorry for the length of the quote, but I think this is a key point---the more calming measures are installed, the less drivers respect them. Most residential neibourhoods in the (Canadian) cities I've lived in now have four-way stops on every single corner. We need better solutions than humps, bumps and signs, and more importantly, ones that don't interfere with snow clearing, low-slung ambulances and firetrucks, and that don't completely piss-off drivers and cyclists to the point of being ignored.
posted by bonehead at 7:34 AM on December 1, 2005

"Traffic calming" has oxymoron written all over it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:55 AM on December 1, 2005

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