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Naked Street

A PR person’s dream, this term is bound to make anybody sit up and take notice. Rest your pounding pulse, this is all about the unsexy subject of traffic management. To disrobe a street, you remove all the conventional methods of controlling vehicles and keeping them separate from pedestrians. Traffic lights, barriers, signs, curbs, and pedestrian crossings are all taken out. The idea behind it is to make the road space less predictable. Instead of drivers being able to rely on road markings and charge along on the assumption that pedestrians are all corralled safely out of the way, they will have to continually interact with people, make decisions about how fast to drive and generally take more responsibility for their actions. London is trying the idea in Exhibition Road, Kensington, in which some of the capital’s biggest museums are sited. The idea sounds extraordinary, so much so that the British tabloid newspaper the Sun wrote in an editorial: “Have you ever, in your whole life, heard of anything more stupid? Apparently the idea was conceived in Holland, where everyone is on drugs and drives slowly anyway.” It was indeed pioneered in the Netherlands, but by the soberest of traffic planners, who claim success in significantly reducing accidents.

The concept of the naked street was spearheaded by the Netherlands, where traffic lights and markings have been stripped from several junctions in recent years.

Denver Post, 14 Feb. 2005

In the Danish city of Christiansfeld, a busy intersection known for traffic jams and accidents was given the naked street treatment four years ago. Since then, there have been no fatal accidents.

Australian, 10 Feb. 2005

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 19 Mar. 2005

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-nak1.htm
Last modified: 19 March 2005.