Simon Jenkins: Rip out the traffic lights and railings. Our streets are better without them | Comment is free | The Guardian

Drivers and pedestrians negotiating shared space is shown to cut accidents and traffic, yet flat-earth planners won’t believe it.

Traffic lights force drivers to watch and obey robots rather than other road users – an obedience not enforced to the same degree on pedestrians, skateboarders or cyclists. One result is that zebra crossings are dangerous because drivers are no longer used to eye contact with other road users. Technology makes them drive like zombies.

Traffic lights, like one-way systems, are also hopelessly inefficient allocators of road space. Even in London’s busiest streets, half the tarmac is vacant, waiting for a light to release vehicles on to it. Many British streets are so empty they might as well have shops and houses built over them. We build over countryside but treat roads as sacred.

The concept of traffic-light removal is simple. It is that all users of public space adjust their behaviour to that of others, balancing a measure of danger and risk in return for convenience. Drivers undirected by signs, kerbs or road markings are faced with confusion and ambiguity. Since they do not want to cause accidents at junctions, or damage their cars, they reduce their speed and establish eye contact with other users.

via Simon Jenkins: Rip out the traffic lights and railings. Our streets are better without them | Comment is free | The Guardian.

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