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March 24, 2010


Andrew W

You're right, it's surprising this isn't obvious to suburban planners. It reminds me of The Design of Everyday Things, where Donald Norman introduced the term "affordances". A wide, long road with no sidewalks affords for high-speed driving. A narrow road with marked intersections, parked cars, and sidewalks, where the presence of empty cars and chatty walkers signals a need for a little more caution, doesn't afford for high-speed driving.

As Norman famously described, a raised bar across a door affords for pushing, even if there's a big sign saying "PULL". Planners shouldn't be surprised when they offer a race track and get racers.

John Michlig

That's a very good point: We make things, and then those things often make US.

It's doubtful that most city engineers (never mind Plan Commission members) are students of the sorts of disciplines Donald Norman describes. On the Plan Commission, especially, there are rampant "seat of the pants" assumptions made as though they have some basis in measurable reality.

Carry Bacot

It's all about having a proper mindset, indeed. It can be hard to think of caution when the road beckons with big spaces. Road makers must aim for efficiency in this case. Areas high in population must have indicators that safe driving is vital.

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