In order to have cars and trucks share the same space with more vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists, we have created a whole system of rules and regulations designed to smooth the flow and prevent accidents. But is that the only way to go? Some argue that when there are rules, people do not really pay attention to their surroundings, thinking that just following the rules is enough.
Some cities in Europe are trying something different. By removing all traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, and other signs and essentially creating common areas that are rule-free and where cars, pedestrians and cyclists all have equal rights, they find that all users of the road are more considerate and careful because they cannot depend on the signs and lights to make their decisions for them. In addition, it seemed to make drivers drive more carefully and slow down and eliminated traffic jams.
Here is a video of one such attempt in Germany.
It seems a little too good to be true. But would such a system work in the US? It seems like it would need a populace that had a heightened civic consciousness. Would trying it in the US, with its highly individualized, more competitive ethos, and litigious mentality, lead to worse outcomes?