by Betsy Harvey, MCRP, '12
In New Brunswick, like all of the United States and much of the world, road travel is governed through road paint, signs and physical barriers that direct and organize traffic. These elements, enforced by national laws, have created an environment that we are all so used to that we rarely think about it. Navigating the streets has become second-nature, and we hardly think as we make a right turn on red or stop at a stop sign.
Shared streets do so by changing the both the level of risk and the actual danger level. By integrating travel lanes, shared street designs purposely increase risk, which, paradoxically, decreases the actual danger to a person. By taking away regulatory devices the road environment becomes less predictable, and our behavior changes when we are in an unpredictable situation. How exactly this happens will be the subject of next week’s post, as well as more examples of shared streets from around the world. It turns out that designing streets that take advantage of natural human instinct and psychology creates safer roads. This is what shared streets are designed to do.
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