Anyone who bikes (especially in a big city) knows how it’s like to always be on the lookout for vehicles zooming by, taxi cabs blocking the bike lane, and a car door suddenly swinging open while attempting to pass.
Pedestrians are dealing with similar issues. There have been several people struck by vehicles, in the past few months, in my area. Of course, there are so many factors that lead to any kind of collision involving cyclists, people crossing streets, and multiple vehicles. Speed is one major factor in those types of incidents.
Drivers can ignore speed limit signs and speed bumps may just encourage drivers to accelerate faster in between them. Here are three ideas, besides signs and bumps, I have been reading about for getting drivers to slow down a bit.
1. Attention Grabbers
In the book Traffic, Why We Drive the Way We Do, author Tom Vanderbilt describes the idea of psychological street calming. Here, “instead of speed bumps…intrigue and uncertainty – the things that active cities are filled with – are the best remedies for traffic problems”. Examples include placing a child’s bike in the side of the road or hanging a strange sculpture.
The book mentions more unusual tactics; topless Danish models near the side of the road holding speed-limit signs, and someone sitting in giant throne wearing a colourful crown chatting with drivers coming by. Both methods have been effective in getting people to slow down. I’m actually surprised the nude women didn’t cause crashes.
Photo: Auto Blog
2. Narrowing Roads
Toronto mayor-elect, John Tory revealed the support for an initiative of narrowing major city streets to improve safety. While it may seem counter-intuitive, wider lanes give the impression that drivers can accelerate faster. Narrow lanes will encourage proceeding with caution when drivers, “realize that they don’t have a significant buffer beside themselves” (TheStar.com).
Vanderbilt (from Point 1) describes a similar effect when driving on straight open highways vs. a narrow winding road along a mountainside. Here, the simple open road makes the driver so comfortable that they either go too fast, or actually get lulled to sleep, resulting in bad news. Subsequently, the latter causes the driver to be extremely cautious, moving slow and steady with a grip on the wheel that could rival someone in a World’s Strongest Man Contest.
Photo: Jason’s Travels
This Dutch concept asserts that, “people live in cities and that cars were merely guests” (Tom Vanderbilt – yes, third reference to him. And the last one). Here, drivers become aware of the ‘street decor’, such as the benches, flowerpots, and even cobblestone roads. This idea is interesting as it positions the driver as ‘guest’ in someone else’s home / territory.
Photo: Ian Bicking
Thanks for reading these ideas. I still can’t believe the topless models worked.