7 Replies to “Streets for People Video”

  1. Cool video. One very minor point I disagree with: the NY street that was changed because it was confusing and unsafe. I get the point about unsafe, especially with a long crossing. But confusing is actually good – it’s been shown that cars slow down when intersections are confusing. Modern street design with clean intersections and gently curving streets (think of any modern suburb) causes cars to travel much faster than older streets with odd intersections and a grid system.

    1. Slowed down traffic can be a nice side effect of a confusing intersection, but I don’t think we should make (or leave) intersections confusing on purpose to achieve that, especially if it means it’s a danger to pedestrians. I’d guess that cars travel through that intersection slower now that there are so many pedestrians in close proximity, and because of the fact that the lanes are narrower than they used to be.

      1. Sorry if I left that unclear. Confusing intersections are safer than regular one. The reason they’re safer is that traffic moves slower.

        I’m fairly sure this comment thread is safer than most of the others.

      2. Matt,

        Your premise assumes that all drivers respond to a confusing circumstances with cautionary behavior. People react differently and not all are confused when faced with the same situation.

        Case in point: A Seattle pedestrian about to cross a residential intersection with a traffic circle can never be certain whether an oncoming car will make their left turn legally by going counterclockwise around the circle, or make a hard left and cut right in front of them.

        As for taking cues on pedestrian safety from what NYC did with Broadway and Fifth Avenue just west of Madison Square Park; surely we can find better inspiration. I just completed graduate school three blocks away from that area and it’s still confusing for pedestrians. …and nyc drivers? Please they couldn’t care less. Taxis intentionally inch forward to part a way through crosswalking pedestrians.

        Cars slow down in narrower lanes because drivers operate their cars in a way that maintainins a defensive zone of space around their vehicles. Nothing confusing about that.

    2. Matt,
      As a bike rider and a motorist I strongly disagree. Confused motorists may be going slower but if they hit me on a bike (on a bike I’m going relatively slow and understanding the ROW) I’m still crippled or dead. Confused motorists are going slow because they are distracted. Distracted drivers are not safe. Sure collisions between two SUVs going slower is better that if they’d been going faster but this is a poor excuse for traffic engineering.

      One of the reasons I HATE driving downtown is because of the switch between center mounted lights and street corner mounted lights. The ‘native’ city drivers know what to expect. As an “out of towner” I’m slowing at intersections, essentially acting unpredictably. As a bike racer I know the two big things that cause crashes are changes in relative speed and people acting in an unpredictable manor.

      1. Me too. If things get confusing, I do slow down, but I also lose a lot of focus. The human mind can only keep track of so many things at once.

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