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SIGIA-L Mail Archives: [Sigia-l] Counterintuitive

[Sigia-l] Counterintuitive

From: Listera (listera)
Date: Sun Jan 23 2005 - 01:07:01 EST

Yogesh Tadwalkar:

> I wonder whether this is brilliant traffic design or simply going back in
> time when no design existed.

What I found brilliant was not the solution per se (I have no idea if it
actually works, that's why I asked if there were any Dutch folk with first
hand knowledge), but the fact that someone was bold enough to frame the
question differently and reach a counterintuitive solution.

You raise some interesting issues, though:

> 1. No one can set expectations or form habits.

I'm puzzled by this assertion, as it happens all the time. As parents, we
set expectations of our children and help them form habits. Closer, Google,
for example, set the benchmark for search interface/result accuracy and has
thus become synonymous with 'search'.

> This will undoubtedly slow the speed of cars as well as pedestrians.
> Considering this is a 'busy intersection' - this will cause congestion and
> pollution.

If I recall the article correctly, it appears to me that the underlying
formative goal of the approach was to form safer, 'more livable' communities
by devaluating the disproportionate dominance of the car, not necessarily
increase vehicular throughput.

No Manhattan driver, for instance, would ever willingly cross the town via
14 or 42nd streets. They are slow, congested with pedestrians, especially at
rush hour, spilling all over the place regardless of signs and other traffic
markers. In most places in NYC, we don't really follow traffic signs: it's a
dance of wills between pedestrians and drivers. We teach our children NOT to
trust the lights but pay attention to the actual cars and make sure they
have direct eye contact with the drivers before moving. If a New Yorker is
crossing a street while the walk light is *not* on and a car makes an
aggressive forward move, he'll get cursed as an out-of-towner from a
neighboring state. So I'd say, at least in NYC, we understand much of what's
proposed here and have been practicing it for decades.:-)
> 2. As for pedestrians, even a small conversation with a friend will be
> impossible while crossing the road.

Hmm, you should drive in NYC.
> 3. No dividers between roads and sidewalks? Where do people stand if they
> want to ask for directions or kiss someone goodbye before crossing? Or is
> that not allowed?

We encourage it in NYC. :-)

Again, like you, I don't have any statistical data to accept or refute this
approach. I tried to give you a flavor of first hand knowledge from one
locale. It does sound counterintuitive, but, like I said, "less is more"
often sounds quite counterintuitive to clients at first sight, too.

Nullius in Verba

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