Email this article to a friend

The ITT List

Friday, Jan 7, 2005, 9:44 am

Smash That Stop Sign

By Seamus Holman
For any of you out there who have to drive (or cycle or walk) to work in a big American city, you are probably familiar with the life and death gauntlet of unprotected left turns, truly insane drivers tempting death, and mini-expressways through the middle of the city. Getting around in Chicago is almost guaranteed to stress you out, one way or another. Well, here's a fascinating look at building traffic systems that tell you what to do by their architecture rather than by visual cues. Here's two great quotes:
There are no lane markers or curbs separating street and sidewalk, so it's unclear exactly where the car zone ends and the pedestrian zone begins. To an approaching driver, the intersection is utterly ambiguous - and that's the point.
What we really need is a complete paradigm shift in traffic engineering and city planning to break away from the conventional ideas that have got us in this mess. There's still this notion that we should build big roads everywhere because the car represents personal freedom. Well, that's bullshit. The truth is that most people are prisoners of their cars.
Most of me shudders at the thought of removing any obstacles that seem to at least temporarily slow down the street racing commuters. Building something that changes the psychology of drivers and pedestrians sounds like a very good idea though. Read the article.

After three years of art directing In These Times--and nine years of living and studying in the Midwest--I returned to the northwest in 2005 to start Gridwork Design and focus solely on web design.

View Comments