More traffic nudges please, says a reader

Reader Francis King wrote to say Nudge could’ve included some more traffic examples.

There are exactly two ways of managing traffic – the heroic and difficult way, and the thoughtful and easy way. To restrain the speed of the cars, it is possible to use a speed camera. Alternatively, though it is possible to use a vehicle-actuated sign, which flashes up the speed limit if the next car is going too fast. Both have the same effect, yet one doesn’t involve fining car drivers, and ultimately taking their car license off them.

Even more than that, it is possible to create the illusion that the road narrows, but putting hedges along the road side, by hashing out part of the road surface, by using dragon’s teeth, or by putting up a gateway at the entrance to a village. A gateway, in essence is a small brick wall on either side of the road. As the road appears to narrow, so car drivers slow down, even though the road has not actually narrowed at all.

If white lines are removed from the centre of a road, this also causes traffic to slow down. Removing the footways and sharing the space between car drivers and pedestrians also causes the traffic to slow down. In both cases, this is due to the fact that traffic is no longer being given permission to drive along the road –uncertainty causes a reduction in speed. It also makes the road look better.

In Holland, most people cycle at one time or another, in the UK it is the preserve of a few. In Holland, because most people cycle, car drivers show great respect to cyclists, in the UK occasional contempt or violence. We have an international cycling team, but is doesn’t actually train in the UK, and one reason was the attitude of car drivers, when they were training on the roads.



3 Responses to “More traffic nudges please, says a reader”

  1. Christopher Monnier Says:

    For stuff about traffic, see Tom Vanderbilt’s new book, appropriately titled “Traffic.” Here’s his blog:

  2. Wendy Ragiste Says:

    I find those speed activated signs to be very effective, even when travelling as the passenger in a car you feel guilty.

  3. John Says:

    Please be wary of the dragon teeth option. The marking are often slicker than uncovered road surfaces, particularly when wet, which creates a hazard for motorcycles and cyclists.

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