My kindergarten teacher called me an anarchist. And it’s probably the most accurate thing a teacher ever said about me in 15 years of pre-, primary and secondary school. How did she know?
Interesting article from Der Spiegel about how a small number of European cities are getting rid of traffic signs. The theory goes that people only drive like hoons when they think it’s safe. In a chaotic and unregulated environment, people drive cautiously and interact with each other – a nod, a look, a wave – and everything runs smoothly. Ish. You may not get there as fast, but you get there alive and possibly a little less stressed.
“The many rules strip us of the most important thing: the ability to be considerate. We’re losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior. The greater the number of prescriptions [sic], the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.”
So says Hans Monderman, Dutch traffic guru, who may not know the difference in English between prescription and proscription, but seems to have elegantly expressed a problem not just with roads but with society generally.
The more we are bound by rules, the less we feel a responsibility to society to behave well. The obvious solution would be to have fewer rules and encourage people to treat each other with respect.
But while pollies prattle about mutual obligation and values, at the same time they crank up fear of terrorists, blather populist law-and-order slogans, remove freedoms and increase regulation.
As the road sign says, fellas: wrong way – go back.