Traffic Lights Replaced By…Courtesy? : TreeHugger

Drachten, a small Dutch city with around 50,000 residents has removed almost all of its traffic lights. Major intersections have been converted to roundabouts, smaller intersections just let drivers work make decisions on their own.

My original reaction to this was extreme cynicism. My 20 minute commute is through the corridor with the highest car insurance rates in the province, and anyone who pays attention will quickly see why. I once mentioned to my carpool buddy that, in our area, the average number of cars running stale yellow or red lights was 7. She was skeptical until she counted. It’s also common to see cars blocking driveways, intersections and – no, I’m not kidding – train tracks in their efforts to gain a foot or two on the distance to home. So, unfortunately, I think Scarborough and Markham are a lost cause for Drachten’s test. There are two things that lift my spirits, though, and make me think it might work: First is that the narcissistic driving habits that plague the suburbs don’t seem as prevalent in the downtown core. (That says a lot about the unpleasantness of suburbanites!) Second is the experience we had during the blackout, where my 20 minute commute was cut to 15 minutes because of the efficiency of the traffic in stopping or starting voluntarily. Granted, that finding is affected by the fact that I waited for four hours after the initial traffic jams and idiots had cleared the road, but it shows there’s still hope. Of course, I could always just stuff them all and move to Drachten…

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