Monday, August 23, 2010

Improving traffic by removing lights?

Seattle Transit Blog posted something thought-provoking yesterday. Portishead, a small town in the Southwest of England, has run an apparently quite successful experiment with removing traffic lights from a problem intersection.

This isn't something for everywhere to copy. For a start, Portishead's a town of only 22,000 residents, so what works there won't necessarily scale up to a big city. Then there's the relative narrowness of urban British streets, compared with much of the world. It also wasn't an unqualified success for all users - the blind man's comments towards the end of the video are worth listening to. But it's an interesting exercise to think about how differently traffic could be handled, and whether a piece of infrastructure as ubiquitous as the traffic light may be helping us less than we think, because it encourages thoughtless behaviour.

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