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« Journal of Economic Perspectives | Main | From Hope and Change to Industrial Policy?! »


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Staddon will get some support from this report from Europe on moves to cut back on road signs

This film of Indian traffic is a lot of fun, check the pedestrians and bicycles!

Someone made some interesting film of pedestrians in New York which revealed a set of norms that developed to facilitate rapid progress on crowded footpaths.

And years ago there used to be a five-way junction in Melbourne that was the wonder of traffic engineers who travelled from all over the country to work out how so much peak period traffic could get through without the assistance of lights or traffic police.

I have noticed that as vehicles have gotten safer, drivers have become less safe. For instance if you observe drivers at a stop light you will most like see several people on a cell phone at any given time. Now look at the vehicles they are driving. My observation is that the larger/safer the vehicle the more likely the driver is to be on a cell phone. This seems especially true with SUV’s. However in my observation, the smaller the car the less likely the driver is to use a cell phone while driving. If the car is small and has a manual transmission then it is very unlikely the driver will be on a cell phone. My theory is that the majority of people have a general safety threshold and those who have the least safe driving habits are attracted to the safest vehicles, those who have the safest driving habits consequentially place vehicle safety at a lower priority over other considerations (like fuel efficiency) and so tend to drive cars that are considered to be less safe.

I expect roads are the same way. The safer the road, the less safe the driver will tend to be, I have observed this in my own driving habits when I get on a rural freeway, or am driving in low traffic areas or times of day.

This is probably the study that I had in mind re the rules on the sidewalks of Manhatten.

People who are atuned to the movements that are used to intercept moving bodies on the sports field will be amused to find those reflexes operating in reverse on the sidewalk.

"A popular maneuver in busy traffic was what Wolff dubbed the "step-and-slide"—a slight angling of the body, a turning of the shoulder and an almost imperceptible sidestep, all of which is reciprocated by the oncoming pedestrian."

It is a pity you guys walk and drive on the wrong side, this is a growing problem here in Australia as we encounter increasing numbers of people approaching on the wrong side of the pavement. Civility is on the slide as well.

With absolutely no empirical evidence to support this claim, I will note that driving in Europe seems to be less a game of "gotcha" than in the states. I hadn't noticed--until this post--how little my travels in Northern Europe involve scanning for speed traps and reading roadside signs in an attempt to comply. There are definitely revenue ploys such as Holland's ubiquitous speed cameras, but on the whole the Europeans seem to be guided by a sense of fair play rather than a system of proclamations and selective enforcement.

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