Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Car and Calming?

A huge problem with progressive traffic management policies is that they can be a touch counter-intuitive. For instance, it's not obvious that removing signals and signs can lead to smoother traffic.

So, it was with some delight that I cracked this month's copy of Car and Driver and found a ringing endorsement of roundabouts in a column by John Phillips. (Not online yet.)

An editor at the world's most influential auto-enthusiast magazine makes an odd roundabout proponent. Phillip's column traces his path from skeptic to advocate with stops at expert explanation and hard evidence. Oh, and he's quite entertaining.

He opens to type, narrating his navigation around the newfangled roundabouts near him and winkingly describing some of the look-what-crazy-stuff-happens sights he sees (including a car driving the wrong way). Then, just as he seems ready to go in for the kill, he quotes a local police chief and a traffic engineer who explain the significant real-world benefits (over signals): lower accident rate and better traffic flow. Phillips declares himself convinced and a fan.

I gotta believe that Phillips' column could have great persuasive power with skeptics. He clearly shares -- and communicates -- most people's pre-conceptions. That makes his ultimate embrace all the more credible. And, like I said, he's entertaining.

I encourage anybody who's trying to advocate for any progressive traffic management to buy the March Car and Driver and read and share the column.

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