Verkeersbordvrij: Europe’s Great Traffic Experiment

It sounds absurd: Tear down all the traffic signs. Pull up all the sidewalks. Scrub the lines from the road.

Verkeersbordvrij (“free of traffic signs”) is a revolutionary new model of managing traffing dreamt up by anarchist Mikhail Bakunin who was banished to Siberia for his political ideas, but his laissez faire model of traffic control has all of the experts buzzing. How does it work, practically? Nods of the head. Hand gestures (the friendly kind) to let someone in. Basically, the system only works when people are being courteous to one another.

The philosophy behind verkeersbordvrij is fairly simple: the more regulations imposed on drivers, the less responsibility they will feel on the road. They’ll stop at the crosswalk for pedestrians, but then refuse to let pedestrians cross anywhere else. They’ll drive the speed limit, even when weather dictates better judgment.

Hans Monderman, one of the projects founders explains: “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, the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.”

So, will it work? All of the experiments so far have been successful. I would personally love to see it implimented, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder how it would work in this country. The concept is striking and idyllic, but would people here be able to handle all that freedom?