52 Better, Faster, Cheaper measures that Penang could start to do tomorrow morning to reduce traffic accidents, strengthen the economy and improve quality of life for all.

We often hear that transportation reform in Penang is going to require massive public investments, large construction projects, elaborate technology deployments, and above all and by their very nature are going to take a long time before yielding significant results. This is quite simply not true. This approach, common in the last century and often associated with the “American transportation model”, no longer has its place in a competitive, efficient, democratic city  And we can start tomorrow, if we chose to.

couple crossing street in Penang trafficTo get a feel for this transformative learning reality let’s start with a quick look at a first lot of ideas for Slow Street Architecture as a major means for reducing traffic related nuisances, accident prevention and improving quality of life for all.  These approaches are not just “nice ideas”.  They have proven their merit and effectiveness in hundreds of cities around the world. There is no good reason that they cannot do the same in Penang. Starting tomorrow morning.

(For further background on external sources feeding this listing, see Sources and Clues section below.)

ACCIDENT PREVENTION/SLOW STREET ARCHITECTURE

  1. Clarify and make widely known areas of the city in which traffic is being slowed
  2. Clear Entry Zone indications to slow speed in designated areas – not just signs but also innovative street architecture at entry points which clearly get the message through to the entering motorist
  3. Create a policy of Traffic Cells (restricting car movements between adjacent zones)
  4. Geometric redesign of roads and streets
  5. Reduce number of traffic lanes on wide streets
  6. Narrow traffic lanes
  7. Eliminate long straight lines/perspectives
  8. Reprocess smooth uniform surfaces that favor speeding
  9. Convert one-way streets to two-way (See http://goo.gl/jyElyj)
  10. Replace mixed traffic lanes with reserved lanes for public transport and eventually cycling
  11. Create protected cycling lanes
  12. Speed humps
  13. Speed tables (longer then humps)
  14. Painted speed humps (visual messaging)
  15. Pavement stripping
  16. Street narrowing (real)
  17. Visual street narrowing (Trompe-l’œil )
  18. Overhanging trees and utility posts
  19. Horizontal curvature of street
  20. Weaving sections
  21. Raised intersections
  22. Make crosswalks more visible
  23. Raised crosswalks
  24. Roundabouts/Traffic circles
  25. Chokers (narrow street by extending sidewalk or widening center strip. Also called deviations, serpentines, reversing curves, twists, and staggering)
  26. Reduce length of crosswalks
  27. Place deliberate bottlenecks that drivers are obliged to move around
  28. Using parked vehicles – whereon one side changing side at frequent intervals
  29. Speed humps, tables and other impediments (work with fire departments, police and emergency service)

Electronic measures to slow traffic:

  1. Add traffic lights (the old “American model” once again)
  2. Convert traffic lights to four-way stop signs
  3. Remove traffic lights (Replace with roundabouts in intersections of different strategies)
  4. Optimize traffic light timing (slow waves, as opposed to dominant past practices)
  5. Traffic cameras
  6. Give pedestrians head start at traffic lights

Other reforms and strategies

  1. Draconian law enforcement
  2. Very high penalties for abuse
  3. Create a Street Code (in case of accident driver must prove innocence, otherwise pay all legal costs and penalties if found guilty)
  4. Make widely known the concept of Shared Space
  5. Create and Protect Play Streets
  6. Safety in numbers
  7. Invite other slow speeders (cycling, pedestrians) into shared street in a visible and abundant manner
  8. Introduce counterflow cycling (going against main traffic flow)
  9. Anything that favors eye contact (low speeds but also orientation of both parties.
  10. “Real signage” (i.e., the “sign” is not something you read but something communicated by the architecture of the road)
  11. Improve road designs at bus stops
  12. Traffic wardens
  13. Children at Play signs
  14. Publish detailed accident statistics
  15. “Name and shame” in event of accident
  16. Slowth – the many advantages of going slow
  17. Expand participation and leadership role of public health experts

Fifty two measures and strategies in all; That gives us one for each week of the year. Time to get started.

Sources and clues:

This simple listing is just a first step.  But you do not have to look far for solid sources to help you deepen your strategy. There are a huge number of them, but (a) a tour of the US Institute of Transportation Engineers Traffic Calming Library (www.ite.org/traffic/), along with (b) a recent article just in from Partners for Public Spaces by Jay Walljasper entitled  “How to Restore Walking as a Way of Life”, and the TDM Encyclopedia of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Traffic Calming at http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm4.htmand you are off to a strong start. Beyond that you have a solid Wikipedia entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_calming. And if all that is not enough you can pick your way through the two million-plus references on traffic calming that are generated by a Google search.

The industrious researcher will have no problem filling out this first list, and finding solid sources to backstop the projects.

# # #

About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is a public entrepreneur specializing in the field of sustainability and social justice. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets, his latest work focuses on the subject of equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions -- and in the process, find practical solutions to urgent climate, mobility, life quality and job creation issues. More at: http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7

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