Road signs suck. What if we got rid of them all?

Shared space designs, explained.
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Some cities in Europe are undergoing a fascinating transformation: they’re getting rid of all of their road signs. That’s thanks to a design concept called “shared space,” where urban planners drastically lessen the presence of traffic lights, signs, and barriers, encouraging all forms of transportation to share the road.  There’s evidence that drivers often totally ignore road signs, so the heightened risk forces commuters to remain on high alert as they pass through an intersection, in theory leading to safer travel. But by stripping cities of their traditional traffic control systems, they leave disabled residents in the dark — and that’s sparked a powerful debate of how to balance ease of movement with all residents’ needs.
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If i showed you two big intersections . one with a bunch of signs traffic lights . and boundaries and one with no markings . or apparent rules at all which one would . look safer to you towns all over europe . are starting to experiment with streets. like this where cars bikes buses and . people can travel freely in the same . space i think this looks like an . accident waiting to happen but i know . someone who would know a lot more about . this than i do i'm roman mara's from 99% . invisible and that's what urban planners . often refer to as a shared space design . strategy it seems counterintuitive but . there's evidence that getting rid of all . signs and barriers might make our . streets a lot safer so how does it work . there's a spot in google street view . where you can witness a town undergoing . this exact transformation this is point. in england about 20 minutes away from . manchester here's the city centre in may . 2011 there's a mess of signs and lights . a few small sidewalks and some half. hazard guardrails to keep pedestrians . safe and here it is in july 2015 . traffic lights road signs curbs all gone . something very strange is happening on . the streets of britain a know if you've . noticed but in some places pavements and . roads have been blurring into one with . cars buses and pedestrians all share in . the same space the town spent 4 million . pounds to expand sidewalk space and . strip the city centre of traditional . demarcations now the only marker left is. this little sign pointing shared space . village the concept is that the absence . of separation will make everyone more . cautious. so commuters slow down make eye contact. and negotiate watch what happens when a . boy in pointen is encouraged to cross . the street without waiting for the cars . to clear the intersection . because cars don't spend time waiting at . traffic lights it takes less time on . average for them to get through the . crossing. even when bikers and pedestrians are. absent cars drive slow due to a concept . called edge friction it's the idea that . nearby vertical elements in a driver's. peripheral vision like trees or lamps . create a visual cue for how fast they're . going on a highway those are often . totally absent so the sidelines blur in . a shared space those lines play an . important mental trick to slow down . drivers in theory shared space works . well for pedestrians allowing them to . follow their desired path while walking . instead of being limited to a strict . path they can walk exactly in the . direction they want to go in practice . that doesn't always seem to be the case . video footage of a shared space at el . wieck square in ashford england shows . that pedestrians mostly still stick to . crosswalks or where a crosswalk would be . that's largely because these layouts are . stressful the majority of a survey . equipment asked about crossing elvis . square reported feeling anxious about it . and those pedestrians frequently report. that they prefer things the way they. used to be but the way things used to be . is relative if you look at old footage . of city streets in the early 1900's cars . mixed freely with pedestrians bicyclists . and street cars vehicles couldn't go . very fast back then so there wasn't a . huge concern about separating them from . walkers and bikers with plenty of city . streets that's still the case without . any intentional urban planning but the . big question is whether these . deliberately strip down designs actually . make people safer it seems that in many. cases they do for one thing we know that . the number of accidents drops after . shared spaces are installed in ipswich . rates of accidents involving injuries . fell from 23 over three years to just . one per year in london's kensington high. street the number of pedestrians injured . dropped by nearly 60% and in drachten . and another. accidents at one intersection fell from. 36 and four years to two in two years we . also know that shared spaces are . quantifiably more free-flowing based on . analysis of traffic conflicts with video . footage like this from exhibition road . in london analysts can rate the severity . of a traffic conflict based on the . participants speed and change of course . before the shared space renovation one . pedestrian had to step back onto the . sidewalk to avoid a departing car . another broke out into a sprint to avoid . getting hit by an oncoming van after the . shared space installation traffic . conflicts were less frequent and less . severe on average like this where . pedestrians wait for a cab to cross . before continuing or this one where a . cyclist changes course to avoid . pedestrians but that doesn't mean these . designs work for everyone the most . ludicrous idea i've ever heard what. about blind people from the beginning . shared space designs have been under. fire for providing insufficient . protections for disabled pedestrians. especially the visually impaired the . family of a pensioner who died a month . after being hit by a bus have called for . traffic lights to be reinstalled at the . junction traffic lights here were. recently removed to make way for a . so-called shared space but it's a move . which has angered david's family i'm . sure if the traffic lights were there. this would have happened . a 2015 house of lords report called for . a temporary ban on shared space designs . and in august 2016 a select committee of . the house of commons launched an inquiry . into the accessibility of such . environments their final report in april . 2017 asked the government to put all . shared space schemes on hold until they . improve the process of consulting . disabled communities preliminary designs. like these by the danish building . research institute give us an idea of. what that balance might look like they . include both the mixed traffic of shared . space and the raised street textures and . button activated crosswalks that . disabled users are used to shared spaces. can be effective but for this kind of . plan to work across communities it will . require a lot more research to determine . what will work in different places and . what will serve the needs of all the . people sharing the streets. [music]. .
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