Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hans Monderman!

I have been racking my brains and search engines for MONTHS trying to re-find this. Hans Monderman designed brilliant traffic control systems.

Take away the signs, make people have to think. They drive better. He pioneered the concept of "Shared Space" where you take out the signs, put in roundabouts and cafes. If someone in a car sees someone sitting in a chair? they slow the hell down.

And the good folks at BoingBoing posted a youtube interview with him before his demise.

Quoted from Tom Vanderbilt's interview:

"In the last few years, however, one traffic engineer did achieve a measure of global celebrity, known, if not exactly by name, then by his ideas. His name was Hans Monderman. The idea that made Monderman, who died of cancer in January at the age of 62, most famous is that traditional traffic safety ­infra­structure—­warning signs, traffic lights, metal railings, curbs, painted lines, speed bumps, and so ­on—­is not only often unnecessary, but can endanger those it is meant to protect.

As I drove with Monderman through the northern Dutch province of Friesland several years ago, he repeatedly pointed out offending traffic signs. “Do you really think that no one would perceive there is a bridge over there?” he might ask, about a sign warning that a bridge was ahead. “Why explain it?” He would follow with a characteristic maxim: “When you treat people like idiots, they’ll behave like idiots.” Eventually he drove me to Makkinga, a small village at whose entrance stood a single sign. It welcomed visitors, noted a 30 kilometer-per-hour speed limit, then added: “Free of Traffic Signs.” This was Monderman humor at its finest: a traffic sign announcing the absence of traffic ­signs."

I live in California, where there are 18 traffic signs per city block, and everyone drives like a maniac.

We need less
Less is more

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