Continuous Flow: Saves Lives and Cake

Posted on April 15, 2013 by Thomas | Knowledge | Tags: |

A fascinating application of continuous flow: A busy town center without traffic lights. Why does it work?

Just seeing the traffic light situation there makes me feel uncomfortable. The video below shows this busy square dominated by cars – and the surprising solution of reducing the amount of lanes and removal of all traffic lights. Cars, pedestrians and bikes mix more freely.
In a funny twist: That is kinda how it used to be in the early days of urban traffic.

I think the concentration on the “shared” part is not the best option. The Shared Space concept seems to have fallen out of favor here in the Netherlands (where much of it evolved). Bikers don’t find it much of an improvement over the usually split bike lanes. Maybe that’s different in Britain.
Besides, the idea that one should put people in danger, to encourage slower driving is questionable. The more accepted concept over here is to separate the forms of traffic.

Rather than just Shared Space, the solution above seems to be a smart mix of ideas working together. Adjusted to the specific situation.

Once piece flow - dishes stacking

Exhibit A of horrific consequences due to stacking.

- The removal of the green traffic light also removes the tacit justification or even duty to drive quickly.

- Accepting that humans are not all trying to dominate each other. People have to negotiate the space – and are willing to do so.

- Before it was simply over-managed. There is benefit of regulating – but it diminishes the more micro you get… hurting you at some point.

- The reduction of crossings in the traffic.

- And then there is the issue with stacking items. I wrote about the single-piece-flow before – and use it since then in the kitchen: By trying to never stack up stuff anymore. I wash up as soon as I am done with a piece – and it feels like surprisingly less work. It’s actually (gasp): kinda fun.

I will try to find more areas to use the idea. And the other insights.

So where do you think you have traffic lights in your life? Where do you stack to put things off for later? And where do you follow a schedule where maybe free dynamic play might not only be more fun, but more productive?

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