Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Streetsblog

Experimenting with the Elimination of Traffic Lights

Today from the Streetsblog Network, Tom Vanderbilt writes on his How We Drive blog about an upcoming experiment in London. Traffic lights at seven intersections in the borough of Ealing will be covered with bags, and drivers will be expected to safely navigate by making eye contact with pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists. The move was inspired by an accidental signal failure that resulted in improved traffic flow, catching the eye of planners. Vanderbilt cautions:

157822087_5953f0434c_m.jpgPhoto by Ed Lawes via Flickr.

Of course, careful attention will have to paid to safety results, particularly with pedestrians (the piece refers to some new mid-block crossings but one has to entertain the idea that these treatments may
reduce pedestrian’s perception of safety and thus, potentially, one’s inclination to walk). The one day of outage could have represented a novelty effect. But the interesting thing about these novel treatments
is that they are often done with much more care and concern than the standard “out of the book” approach that is applied automatically.

Eliminating traffic lights is one element of the "shared spaces" planning approach advocated by the late Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman. However, without the other elements of Monderman-style design, for example the use of varied street surface texture and color, it remains to be seen if a street without signals serves pedestrians and cyclists as well as drivers.

Other food for thought from around the network: WashCycle enters the debate about what traffic laws merit the most vigorous enforcement; Fifty Car Pileup writes about the growing movement to eliminate urban highways; and Orphan Road argues that while $8 billion may not be much in the grand scheme of things, it does effectively change the national conversation on high-speed rail.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Opinion: Connect the Dots of Manhattan’s Missing Bike Lanes

Only a few miles of missing protected lanes stand in the way of a robust bike network.

April 15, 2024

Monday’s Headlines: Thanking the Academy Edition

We would be remiss if we didn't offer some photos and copy about Friday's George Polk Awards ceremony, plus other news.

April 15, 2024

Civic Panel Pushes For (Some) Atlantic Ave. Safety Upgrades

Brooklyn Community Board 2 stopped short of calling for a more aggressive redesign of a street where drivers have killed six pedestrians in the last decade.

April 15, 2024

Vandals Commit Mass Arborcide Near the Greenway in Kissena Park

Hundreds of young trees were ripped from the ground — some stolen, some just left for dead — near the greenway in Kissena Park in Queens.

April 14, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: The Polk’s on Us Edition

This afternoon, our reporter Jesse Coburn will journey to Midtown to accept Streetsblog's first George Polk Award, one of journalism's highest honors. But before that, here's the news.

April 12, 2024
See all posts