If you want less traffic, get rid of traffic laws
In North Somerset, Great Britain, a man named Martin Cassini has documented what happened when a town literally turned off its traffic lights and did nothing to replace them. Instead of complete chaos, they found that:
- Time spent commuting fell by more than half.
- There was no impact on safety.
Take a look at the website for the project at: http://www.fitroads.com/
Check out the youtube video series at Cassini’s channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/mjcassini#p/u
And if you’re really an economics dork like I am, read about argumentation ethics and the praxeology of traffic lights at the Mises Institute website: http://mises.org/daily/4745
With a few exceptions (because the world will always have assholes, traffic lights or not), drivers are more courteous and cooperative under the “anarchist” scheme, and people tend to yield the right of way and wait their turn when necessary. It seems as though the lack of traffic lights has shifted drivers to a “we’re all in this together” mentality, whereas the regimented rules that were removed and not replaced were the root cause of the competitive mindset that one often sees on the roads today.
To me, this isn’t entirely surprising. In urban Minnesota, freeway speeds are capped at 55, and drivers are infuriatingly oblivious to what’s going on around them, to the point where I’ve become something of a left-lane vigilante (no, I’m not that proud of it). By contrast, on the autobahn in continental Europe, speeds are uncapped, and yet people are aware of their surroundings, move over when necessary, and generally follow the unspoken rules of the road, allowing everyone to get to their destination more quickly.
I’d be interested to see this project extend to other cities, including in the U.S.
h/t Justin T.P. Quinn, writing at The Mises Daily Blog at the Mises Institute