‘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

Dancing on the Tightrope between the Twin Towers

On the morning of August 7, 1974, 24-year-old Philippe Petit stepped onto a steel wire between the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan.

A police officer was dispatched to bring him down and observed in helpless amazement that Petit was dancing, and laughing. His feet left the wire as he bounced and resettled on it again. 

 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/biography/newyork-tightrope/

Picture source:  https://www.google.com/#q=philippe+petit+photos

The Grounded Tightrope Walk

“In the beginning you must subject yourself to the influence of nature. You must be able to walk firmly on the ground before you start walking on a tightrope”. (Henri Matisse)      http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/tightrope.html

 A Balance-Improving Exercise from Point ‘A’ to Point ‘B’:

  1. “Place your right heel directly in front of your left toes, forming a straight line.  Next, step your left heel in front of your right toes.  Continue to place your back foot ahead of your front foot until you reach your destination.  This exercise challenges your balance by creating a narrow base of support.
  2. Want an extra challenge?  Close your eyes for five seconds after every third foot placement.  Make sure to engage your abs first so you don’t fall over”. 

 Quoted from: Stealth Workout by Kathleen Trotter (http://www.kathleentrotter.com/),  Globe and Mail, January 7, 2013.