Could we design our way out of the car/bike wars?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

As a driver, I've shaken my fist at seemingly-suicidal cyclists zipping this way and that oblivious to the multi-ton metal objects traveling at high speed around them.

As a cyclist, I've shaken my fist at seemingly-clueless drivers oblivious to the danger they pose as they swing through bike lanes, run red lights, etc.

As much as I like the idea of everyone sharing the road and getting along, I'm not sure that's plausible. Even if all the crazies (on both sides) were to magically disappear, there's still the issues of distracted driving, bad weather, poor visibility, and more -- all of which can make the combination of bikes and cars a lethal one. Especially at intersections.

Like with so much in life, it seem obvious to me that the solution may lie in what we web designers call "interface design". Got a problem with the way humans are interacting with a system? Change the design of the system. Don't expect humans to change their behavior; instead, adjust the system and use their natural behaviors to create the right outcomes.

Urban planner Nick Falbo (of Portland's Alta Planning + Design) makes a concise and compelling argument for changing the way we design intersections. With a few simple and inexpensive changes, we can make intersections much more intuitive and thus much safer.

Check it out. This is definitely worth a couple minutes of your time. From Falbo's site, ProtectedIntersection.com (where you can learn a lot more about what he proposes):

Discuss.

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