“The Dutch city of Drachten has undertaken an unusual experiment in traffic management. The roads serving forty-five thousand people are “verkeersbordvrij“: free of nearly all road signs. Drachten is one of
several European test sites for a traffic planning approach called “unsafe is safe.” The city has removed its traffic signs, parking meters, and even parking spaces. The only rules are that drivers should yield to
those on their right at an intersection, and that parked cars blocking others will be towed.
The result so far is counterintuitive: a dramatic improvement in vehicular safety. Without signs to obey mechanically (or, as studies have shown, disobey seventy percent of the time), people are forced to drive more mindfullyâ€”operating their cars with more care and attention to the surrounding circumstances. They communicate more with pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers using hand signals and eye contact. They see other drivers rather than other cars. In an article describing the expansion of the experiment to a number of other European cities, including Londonâ€™s Kensington neighborhood, traffic expert Hans Monderman told Germanyâ€™s Der Spiegel, â€œThe many rules strip us of the most important thing: the ability to be considerate. Weâ€™re losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior. The greater the number of prescriptions,
the more peopleâ€™s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.â€..”
From “The Future of the Internet – And How to Stop It” by Jonathan Zittrain
The PDF version is available for free download from here