I'm a big fan of the idea of 'shared space' in urban areas - roads shared by car drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, where priority is negotiated instead of imposed. In a world of pedestrian barriers, traffic lights and 'thou shalt not' road markings, it seems counterintuitive, but wherever schemes have removed all the traditional traffic 'controls', speeds are lower, congestion is massively reduced, pollution is cut, accidents are almost non-existent, and everyone seems to get along fine.
It's not a new idea, of course. These shared spaces have been implemented in the Netherlands for many years. If you have driven in Jersey, you will have encountered the 'merge in turn' instruction at junctions, and that seems to work well. Last year, Portishead (Bristol) decided to run a trial, and it has been both very successful and extremely popular.
The libertarian in me thinks that people are basically co-operative, and left to our own devices we will work out a way of living together that is mutually beneficial. Externally-imposed controls tend to distort our behaviour and make us distrust and challenge each other. How many accidents happen when one person insists that it is their 'right' to proceed ahead of someone else? How often do we see a green traffic light as permission to speed up and stop observing and analysing?
Have a look at these clips and see what you think.
Thanks to Dick Puddlecote for the links.