Thursday, January 06, 2005

Naked streets

No, not the pedestrians. They're going to take down all the street signs, remove all the kerbs and white lines and traffic lights.

All traditional signals and barriers used to separate the carriageway and pavement will be removed and the question of who has priority will deliberately be left open. Even the kerb will be eliminated as part of the scheme to create Britain’s first such “shared space”.

This is, when you think about it, a profoundly libertarian thing to do. What it says to car drivers and pedestrians is: "You are responsible for your own safety and for the safety of the other road users around you". Which is exactly as it should be. I think it's fair to say that we have gone as far as we can with the state telling us to stop or go or slow down or speed up. It hasn't worked, so now they are going to try the opposite approach.

I'm sure this will work. Anyone who has ever encountered a bend in the road where a sign has fallen down or broke off will know that your immediate reaction to the fright you get is to slow down.

It will also have the beneficial side effect of needing the removal of all the ugly signage that frankly distract drivers and probably cause more accidents than they stop.

Golly, I think they've done something right.