‘Patron Saint’ of Pedestrians

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The late Hans Monderman was a Dutch traffic engineer and former driving instructor. His work in redesigning roads redefined the relationship between pedestrians and drivers.

He knew that drivers were more reliant on road markings, signs, and signals than on their common sense and intelligence.  If drivers face more uncertainty and have to choose who has ‘right of way’, they are more likely to slow down.  Everyone, pedestrian and drivers alike, become more responsible. “A wide road with a lot of signs is telling a story,” Monderman said. “It’s saying, go ahead, don’t worry, go as fast as you want, there’s no need to pay attention to your surroundings. And that’s a very dangerous message.” (Quoted in: http://walkablestreets.wordpress.com/2004/12/18/roads-gone-wild/)

Monderman’s simple roads featured public art, landscape and lighting. His early success in reducing vehicle speed in the Dutch village of Oudehaske attracted further work in more than 100 towns and villages.  His redesign of complex intersections and shopping streets caught the attention of professionals and politicians beyond the Netherlands. The EU initiated a “shared space” program based on his planning principles.

TV journalists would interview the humble Monderman in the middle of a busy stream of traffic. He would demonstrate his confidence in the responsible adaptability of drivers by walking backwards into the traffic. 

He died from cancer, aged 62.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2008/feb/02/mainsection.obituaries

 Photo source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shared_space

“Friend and Foe March for Peace”

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From: The Economist April 13, 2012

“With nothing tangible yet to show for six months of talking, public faith in the peace negotiations between Colombia’s government and the FARC guerrillas has shown signs of eroding. That prompted tens of thousands of Colombians, many of them dressed in white, to march in Bogotá on April 9th to show their support for the talks.

The march brought together some strange bedfellows: President Juan Manuel Santos was joined by politicians who are FARC fellow-travellers, and guerrilla victims rubbed shoulders with FARC political activists. The main dissenter was Álvaro Uribe, Mr. Santos’s predecessor, who has done his best to sabotage the talks. He complained that the march was a “deception” and that a peace agreement will allow the FARC to get away with murder.”

TODAY’S UPDATE, January 23, 2014:

Colombia’s government has stepped up military operations against FARC, killing 26 in a series of clashes since the weekend, according to the army.

Uruguay’s president Jose Mujica plans to meet in Havana with Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC guerrilla leaders to urge them to accelerate peace talks. “Never before in the 50 years since this confrontation began, has peace been so close.” said President Mujica.

The talks have been underway in Havana since November 2012, with preliminary agreements reached on two of five agenda points. Negotiators are currently discussing how to deal with drug trafficking, an industry that has fueled the conflict. Other issues that remain unresolved are compensation for victims of the conflict and the disarming of the rebel forces.

 http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/115422-uruguay-offers-to-mediate-in-colombia-peace-talks