Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sign Language

I read in the newspaper over the weekend that the German town of Bohmte has decided to initiate a bold experiment designed to improve road safety : they have taken away all the road signs and traffic lights. The experiment is designed to test out the "shared space" traffic management theory which states that it is better and safer to make road users negotiate with each other via eye contact and hand signals rather than having rules forced upon them by signage. It all sounds a little like what you would get if you elected an anarchist government and I am not ready to hand over my safety when negotiating the main road to the fortuitous coincidence of commuters' eye movements. However, it is difficult not to feel a bit of sympathy for the anti-sign movement.

It is clear that at some stage some Government Department has attempted to list every circumstance when a road sign should be used and some Local Government Department has decided to take them at their word. Thus, there has been a crop of completely superfluous signs all telling you things you just do not want to know. My particular favourite can be found just a few hundred yards from where I live. A little footpath leads down behind the back of a business park towards some woods. It would be difficult to negotiate a bike down this footpath it is so narrow. After about thirty yards there is a gap in the fence to one side of the path. It would be difficult to negotiate a penny-farthing through the said gap. Nevertheless, some dim sod has erected a great big sign saying that this is unsuitable for motor vehicles.

Where Bohmte goes today, perhaps Huddersfield should follow tomorrow. That is, of course, if we can find the way.

1 comment:

  1. It said a while ago in the paper that when the traffic lights fail in the middle of Oxford, traffic flows much more smoothly. I can believe it, the system near the station is just plain crazy - phasing seems completely wrong, usually trying to feed ten cars into room for four....

    But why HAVE segments with only room for four? Unless the lights are carefully phased to feed people through...

    Either I'm mad (probable) or my comment answering your comment on my last blog didn't go in correctly....

    I was wondering why most of the "instruction" comments on my version of blogger are now in German - and all star signs on the profiles. No, I didn't (knowingly) tell it to translate.