Today's traffic policy started with managing the flow at intersections of
urban streets, with traffic mechanisation around 1900 a need was felt to
regulate friction at junctions. The most striking examples is the roundabout
in American cities, inspired by Haussmann's late 19thc traffic circles in
I have been an urban cyclist for over 10 years and very interested in the
thinking that informs transport management and street design. The concepts
that especially interest me are the attitudes to time and space that
underlie personal and institutional decisions about traffic management and
human movement. The Radburn principle - as you observe - contradicts growing
preference for shared space disrupted by the increasing speed of traffic.
Railways became segregated. Trams did not - initially. Our new trams in
Birmingham are, for a variety of reasons, running on old segregated rail
lines except for a short couple of miles. When, recently, there have been
collisions between trams and cars it is often the tram that is seen in the
media as 'the problem'. As a cyclist I enjoy cycling with my dog on canal
towpaths on the city as it is segregated - safe from motorised traffic, but
in general I favour integration and am not a keen supporter of urban traffic
segregation by speed.
Below is an interesting set of reflections with illustrations arguing for
the removal of controls on individualised traffic so all road users come to
regulate their movement - walking or in or on different forms of transport -
by using civility and intelligence. You can see the attraction of this idea
to people of the right who trust the market and favour deregulation. This is
also attractive to those who favour democratisation of road space,
participation and the removal of a segregated traffic hierarchy:
This relates to roads. This shared space does not preclude a segregated
rapid transit infrastructure running over or under roads. This seems
contradictory but it seems to me that the argument here is about the way
humans share road space in cities and smaller settlements and the
implications of these decisions for where we build the places where we live,
work, worship, take our leisure.
There's a headline in yesterday's Birmingham Post which says there'll be no
government funding for an extension of our Metro tram system unless the
different municipalities of the West Midlands can agree on a credible system
of road rationing or congestion charging. The West Midland's Councils
struggle to agree this but want the cash. Deadlock and delay ensue. Any
policy perceived as restricting the 'freedom' of motorists is politically
very risky for local politicians. I understand this. I hear the vox pop.
People love their cars. I've got rid of my car. I cycle and use public
transport. My wife would never copy me. My daughter has just bought herself
a car. My son does not have the means to keep a car. I am regarded as a
> From: Huang Eu Chai <hng001@...>
> Reply-To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2008 09:21:06 -0000
> To: <email@example.com>
> Subject: [carfree_cities] Re: Slow transport?
> Have you looked into the "Radburn Principle" yet?
> I'm not sure if this may be of use to you since it's neither urban nor
> explicit, but personally I have always felt that the theory had a
> subconscious but very major impact on the way come cities are planned
> and built (Singapore in my case).