Sunday, November 12, 2006


Ditch Traffic Lights?

Hans Monderman, a Dutch road traffic engineer, advocates removing all traffic lights and replacing them with round-abouts. Monderman argues that this approach will not only improve traffic flow (since motorists will be constantly moving), but will also reduc the number of serious motor accidents.

The idea is that round-abouts make driving more "dangerous", and by making driving more dangerous, motorists drive more carefuly. As a result, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians will have a much safer traveling experience. Sound familiar?

I think the argument sounds reasonable, it seems to be working in Brussels (which has removed almost all of its traffic lights and has seen a reduction in automobile related deaths), but I don't know if the benefits will outweigh the costs of contruction at every single intersection.

This story was found via Robert Murphy at The Mises Economics Blog.

I've been working on a Spotlight on Traffic Calming and I can assure you that the benefits don't outweigh the costs.

For example, the costs of roundabouts on Hillsborough Street are going to be about $1.5 million a piece. Admittedly, that figure is high because it includes some other cosmetic changes in the vicinity of the roundabout, but still, they're expensive.

Add to that the fact that roundabouts slow emergency vehicles, and you start to think that they're not worth it.

The real answer to make streets safer is to make as many as possible into one-way streets. One-way streets speed traffic AND decrease accidents (for pedestrians and drivers)! They're a win-win situation. Less congestion, fewer accidents and no negative impacts on emergency vehicles.
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