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Town ditches traffic lights to cut accidents
September 11, 2007 / 12:36 PM / 10 years ago

Town ditches traffic lights to cut accidents

<p>A pedestrian light is pictured in western Berlin April 12, 2005. A town council in Germany has decided the best way of improving road safety is to remove all traffic lights and stop signs downtown. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz</p>

BERLIN (Reuters) - A town council in Germany has decided the best way of improving road safety is to remove all traffic lights and stop signs downtown.

From September 12, all traffic controls will disappear from the center of the western town of Bohmte to try to reduce accidents and make life easier for pedestrians.

In an area used by 13,500 cars every day, drivers and pedestrians will enjoy equal right of way, Klaus Goedejohann, the town’s mayor, told Reuters.

“Traffic will no longer be dominant,” he said.

The idea of removing signs to improve road safety, called “Shared Space,” was developed by Dutch traffic specialist Hans Monderman, and is supported by the European Union.

The EU will cover half of the 1.2 million euros ($1.66 million) it will cost Bohmte to ditch its traffic lights.

Monderman’s ideas have already been implemented in the town of Drachten in the north of the Netherlands, where all stop lights, traffic signs, pavements, and street markings have gone.

“It’s been very successful there,” Goedejohann said, adding that accidents in Drachten had been reduced significantly.

Officials in Fuerstenberg/Havel, a small town north of Berlin, are also considering adopting the “Shared Space” scheme.

But not everyone is confident it will work.

“Just because it worked in the Netherlands doesn’t mean it will work here,” said Werner Koeppe, a road specialist at Berlin’s Technical Traffic Institute.

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