Viral: Street Code strikes again

Viral: Our piece on this of 25 March (click here) got picked up by Tree Hugger’s reporter April Streeter and is getting an interesting range of comments, positive and negative, over there. Click here to check out their article and its comments. Thanks April. Thanks Treehugger. Thanks virus.The Editor.

by April Streeter, Gothenburg, Sweden on 04. 3.09


Photo Julia Fullerton-Batton via Foxtongue @ flickr.
There is a highway code – a set of expected rules, best practices, and behaviors when manipulating your vehicle on those long ribbons of public road. There isn’t, as of yet, much of a corresponding city street code – a set of guidelines that help walkers, bikers, scooter, truck, and car drivers – maneuver the streets of a city in a safe and (as important) polite way. New mobility consultant and WorldStreets editor Eric Britton is proposing the street code start with a fairly simple rule.

The biggest vehicle bears the burden of responsibility, and in the case of an accident, also the burden of proving innocence. If streets are for cars, as Britton says, than there isn’t much need for this type of street code.

But if streets are multiple use vias (and in the U.K. 12 towns are adopting the ‘shared space concept’ to improve quality of life) where cars are just one player, Britton says:

“The idea is…legal responsibility for any accident on street, sidewalk or public space, is automatically assigned to the heavier faster vehicle. This means the driver that hits the cyclist has to prove his innocence.”

The idea of a street code is not entirely new, but is starting to gain a little more traction as city planners think about designing streets on more of a shared use model.

Lest you think this seems utopian and far-fetched, in Belgium the insurance company automatically pays damages in collisions between cyclists or pedestrians and motor vehicles, no matter who’s at fault, according to a document on street codes on Livable Streets. Via: World StreetsNote: Graphic adapted by John Brooks via Livable Streets.

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About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as a development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and international sustainability activist who has lived and worked in Paris since 1969. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport - . | Britton online:

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