Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Transit traffic - 14.09.2007

Traffic lights and signs: a useful system?
Imagine a town with no road signs, pedestrian paths and traffic lights. This utopia has become a reality in several cities around Europe.
In Bohmte, a German town in Lower Saxony, all traffic lights and stop signs have been removed from the centre. Pavements and cycle paths are now distinguished from the road only by color, and cobblestones replace the asphalt on the roadway. We are getting rid of the division between cars and pedestrians, Klaus Goedejohann, the mayor of Bohmte said. In an area used by 13,500 cars every day, drivers and pedestrians will enjoy equal right of way.
This concept called "shared space" is supported by the European Commission. It is being implemented in seven cities in Europe, including Drachten in the Netherlands, Ejby in Denmark, Ipswich in England and the Belgian town of Ostende.
"Shared spaces" rely on the principle that the greater the number of prescriptions, the more people's sense of personal responsibility decreases. Thus, in a deregulated environment, road users are more self-disciplined and therefore pay more attention to what other road users are doing, which is a key element to cause fewer accidents.
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