"The many rules strip us of the most important thing: the ability to be considerate. We're losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior," says Dutch traffic guru Hans Monderman, one of the project's co-founders. "The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people's sense of personal responsibility dwindles."

Some European cities are taking a wholly different approach to managing traffic: they are taking away traffic signs.

"A project implemented by the European Union is currently seeing seven cities and regions clear-cutting their forest of traffic signs. Ejby, in Denmark, is participating in the experiment, as are Ipswich in England and the Belgian town of Ostende.

The utopia has already become a reality in Makkinga, in the Dutch province of Western Frisia. A sign by the entrance to the small town (population 1,000) reads "Verkeersbordvrij" -- "free of traffic signs." Cars bumble unhurriedly over precision-trimmed granite cobblestones. Stop signs and direction signs are nowhere to be seen. There are neither parking meters nor stopping restrictions. There aren't even any lines painted on the streets."


It may sound like chaos, but it's only the lesson drawn from one of the insights of traffic psychology: Drivers will force the accelerator down ruthlessly only in situations where everything has been fully regulated. Where the situation is unclear, they're forced to drive more carefully and cautiously.

Indeed, "Unsafe is safe" was the motto of a conference where proponents of the new roadside philosophy met in Frankfurt in mid-October.

"Strange as it may seem, the number of accidents has declined dramatically. Experts from Argentina and the United States have visited Drachten. Even London has expressed an interest in this new example of automobile anarchy. And the model is being tested in the British capital's Kensington neighborhood."

Will this work in Metro Manila? Probably not on the major highways, but why not in the inner city streets? Our streets are chaotic enough as it is, but could this approach work back home? Your thoughts?

Read the full article here.

Image credit: Ben Behnke for Spiegel Online.


panlil said...

My 2 cents: True that a driver becomes "more careful" in a driving environment where there are no rules.

BUT, the key word is DRIVING. Parking and loading laws need to be enforced so that there is enough space to drive.

Urbano dela Cruz said...


I think that is the point -when rules are not defined (i.e. -nothing to enforce) everyone steps back and is extra careful. Hopefully, that also means that "parkers and unloaders" will also be more considerate.

I do think this approach may not work in large cities -but let's see where the Europeans take it. If it works there, it could work in our small cities.

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