There was a very interesting BBC Newsnight this week which featured the humble traffic light. The show featured campaigner Martin Cassini who thinks roads would be safer and less congested if they were free of traffic lights.
Cassini contends that a world without traffic lights would mean less congestion and safer roads. He argues that traffic lights make us stop when it is safe to go, cost the UK £20 billion pounds a year through increased road congestion, extend journey times, and maximise emmissions from the stop start driving cycle.
Many people argue that the roads in Britiain are now more dangerous then ever, even with all the latest systems to reduce speed and manage driving habits. Cassini argues that we have a duty to try and test a traffic light free road system.
By turning streets into civilised shared spaces you would have a systen which is designed around human nature not the other way round. A road system currently in place in Norrkoping Sweden has dispensed with road markings, signs and traffic lights, with drivers now part of the urban context.
Pedestrians are allowed to stand in the middle of the road, and cross where they like. With the new system in place there have been the no accidents since the traffic lights were removed in September 2000!