A World Without Traffic Lights

This short, Poynton Regenerated, recounts the counterintuitive adventures of Poynton, “a town within the civil parish of Poynton-with-Worth, and the unitary authority area of Cheshire East, England.” Frustrated by ever-growing gridlock, city planners embraced something radical in an attempt to revitalize their downtown center:

They removed their traffic lights:

…Engineers completely reconfigured the intersection at the center of town, replacing a traffic light with two “roundels” that cars must negotiate without the guidance of traffic signs. Pavements of varying colors and textures are the only signal as to which type of road user belongs where.

It was a controversial move for the community of some 14,000 people, which lies about 11 miles from Manchester in the northwestern part of England. Now, a year after construction wrapped up, a video called “Poynton Regenerated” makes the case that the shared space scheme maintains a smooth flow of traffic while simultaneously making the village center a more attractive and safer place for pedestrians, leading to increased economic activity downtown.

As the article notes,  the film’s director (one Martin Cassini) is hardly neutral, “himself an avowed foe of traffic lights and signs and advocate of the shared space concept.” And a town of 14,000 is small enough that one might well question how transferable its success or failure will be to larger areas and projects. But “success” definitely seems to be the appropriate word, at least so far.

A local city councilor says that the main street no longer seems like a dying place, as it had for years before the change. Some 88 percent of businesses in the area are reporting an increase in foot traffic, and real estate agents say they’re seeing new interest in buying property in the area.

(HT to Laughing Squid’s tireless EDW Lynch. And Image Credit to this spectacular, not particularly accurate article.)

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