In 2007, the small town of Bohmte (pop. 12,000) in western Germany eliminated all traffic controls, including traffic lights, signs and pedestrian crossings. The result can be seen in this video.
Sure it works in Germany but us Anglophones are special and it wont work here, right? Well it is working in some parts of England, including the small town of Poynton (pop. 14,000) which has 26,000 vehicles passing through every day. We can see shared spaces in Fort Street in Auckland and they have been a huge success. But are we being too timid? Could the whole CBD be treated in this way and would this improve traffic and create better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. It may not necessarily mean separated cycle paths are not needed but it would create an environment where they are much easier to have implemented. Was there any need to turn the centre of our city into a thoroughfare? Especially when we already have SH1 routed straight through the city centre
(despite that not being the original plan for Auckland).Amazingly it turns out that telling road users where to travel at all times doesn’t lead to better traffic outcomes, certainly not for people who choose to travel other than inside a steel box. Obviously we are not talking about motorways but surface streets in urban areas. Traffic engineers have been keen to compartmentalise road users into neat groups but I dont really think humans work like that. The succes of these alternative traffic treatments seem to bear that out.
At the very least, could this be the new design of Ponsonby Road, Parnell Road, Broadway or other areas that are a kind of “urban village”? Broadway carries around 40,000 vehicles a day, Ponsonby Road handles around 28,000 vehicles a day while Parnell Road caters for substantially less, perhaps around 15,000.
After 60 years of constantly widening roads and allocating more and more space to cars (with no appreciable effect on congestion while destroying these streets as places), surely things couldn’t get any worse on these streets? Currently they only serve to severe one side of the shopping area from the other and discourage walking and cycling. Worth trying? I think so.