Why Paris Wants Fewer Stoplights
Fewer stoplights could mean safer roads.
The Paris mayor's office is set to approve a plan to reduce the number of stoplights in the city, in a bid to improve traffic throughout the notoriously congested French capital.
Similar initiatives have worked in smaller French cities, including Bordeaux and Abbeville. The northern city of Abbeville went to far as to reduce the number of stoplights to just one, according to a report in Le Parisien. The center of the city has 64,000 cars circulating each day, and the solution has greatly decreased congestion, the mayor’s office said.
While the initiative is aimed at improving traffic flow, it may also make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, according to numerous studies. Traffic lights are where 10,000 accidents happen per year in France, according to the same report in The Local, and removing some of them may reduce the number of accidents in the city.
The idea of creating a safer atmosphere by removing traffic posts may seem counterintuitive, but studies relying on a theory known as “driver anarchy” offer an explanation. The absence of traffic lights forces drivers to take more personal responsibility for their actions, causing them to drive more vigilantly, according to Scientific American.
“The more uncomfortable the driver feels, the more he is forced to make eye contact on the street with pedestrians, other drivers and to intuitively go slower,” Chris Conway, a U.S. city engineer, told Scientific American.