terry_freeman on July 20, 2010, 10:47:08 pm
quote: As there is no 'law',

Here we need a loud buzzer, as on the game shows.

Law does not require a government.

Law preceded the government.

Law existed independently of governments.

Law would continue to exist - and would be improved - if there were no government.

We have examples - you did google "not so wild west", I hope - of laws being created in societies which had no formal government. The government-free west was statistically safer than contemporary eastern cities.

As has been pointed out, prescriptions would exist in anarchy, but would not be required. In fact, prescriptions are not _required_ in some governments today; we don't have to speculate about whether the world would collapse if prescriptions were not required, since we have existing counterexamples.

When your reality check bounces,
consider that your assumptions might be wrong.

There are even examples in Europe where the entire set of assumptions underpinning traffic markings have been tossed out. No signals, no signs, no markings, no speed traps. Guess what? The streets are safer.

I am going to turn the question around. I challenge you to come up with a theory which explains why streets become safer when all signals, signs, and markings are removed and people are left to their own devices. Google up the relevant studies and tell us what you think.


wdg3rd on July 21, 2010, 02:28:59 pm

Tobacco. While it IS legal to smoke in places like Canada and Alaska, police are shot, and killed every day by cigarette smugglers who undersell legitimate tobacco merchants.


The reason there are tobacco smugglers is that is a great disparity in tax levels on tobacco products between one state and another.  A truckload of Marlboros can be incredibly profitable if you can get it from Delaware to NYC (and avoid being killed by the Family members who claim a monopoly on that trade in that market area, or by their pet cops)..  Possibly not as profitable (and dangerous) as under total prohibition, but not small change either.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

wdg3rd on July 21, 2010, 03:14:37 pm
A possibly better known example of law without government enforcement would be the many variations of "Robert's Rules of Order".
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

J Thomas on July 21, 2010, 07:39:49 pm
There are even examples in Europe where the entire set of assumptions underpinning traffic markings have been tossed out. No signals, no signs, no markings, no speed traps. Guess what? The streets are safer.

I am going to turn the question around. I challenge you to come up with a theory which explains why streets become safer when all signals, signs, and markings are removed and people are left to their own devices. Google up the relevant studies and tell us what you think.

I found a collection of reports from Drachten etc from when the system first started. One was later and had actual data.

http://www.fietsberaad.nl/library/repository/bestanden/Evaluation%20Laweiplein.pdf

They looked at a single intersection that was converted to a roundabout. In 9 years before, they had 17 accidents, almost 2 a year. In 2 years afterward they had 1 accident, an average of 0.5 per year. Somebody claimed this was significant. But they were waiting for further data.

They looked at waiting times at their roundabout. They compared it to waiting times found by two grad students two years before, on a single day. Their theoretical model predicted it would be faster, but there was something wrong with the model and it was really faster than predicted. The traffic moved slower but waited less. This is entirely predictable. At a stoplight with equal times, you can expect to hit a red light half the time, and on average you'll wait half the time of the redlight. But at a roundabout you enter immediately unless it has too much traffic, and then you slowly travel around the circle until you reach your exit. So of course you wait less.

Let's back up. The idea of putting a gendarme at an intersection to say who can go dates back at least to Napoleon. When he was moving convoys of supplies etc he wanted movement through that intersection at maximum speed. His aim was not to minimise accidents, it was to get the bulk of the supplies to the battle as quickly as possible. Later we got traffic lights which are cheaper than traffic police but less flexible. You can wait at a traffic light whether there's anybody coming the other way or not, and you may have to pay if you disobey the light even when there is no chance of accident. But the implicit goal is still to maximise throughput and not to minimise accidents. Roundabouts reduce accidents by slowing everybody down. They may turn out to increase throughput too. But in the USA roundabouts are being phased out, replaced by exceptionally ugly and perverse intersections wih multiple lights. The official reason is that Americans are not used to roundabouts and have accidents at them.

Maybe I'll find more studies that actually reveal more, though I've put as much time into it as I intend to without feedback.

Here's my theoretical reason why there might be fewer accidents without traffic signs etc. It is that in the background assumptions, traffic engineers have tried to maximise throughput subject to an adequately low accident rate. They talk about reducing accidents but their job is to get people places with minimal delay. The number of accidents and particularly the number of bad injuries and deaths would be reduced if we slowed down the traffic. This is what happens without signs etc. Everybody slows down and gets more careful. In two of the early places they eliminated signs, they replaced the asphalt with cobblestones. Nobody goes fast on cobblestones, so there are fewer accidents and fewer severe accidents.

If you told people "We are going to reduce accidents by making sure you don't drive fast" they would strenuously object. But this approach sneakily gets that result without admitting it.

Some people truly do drive with impaired judgement. Drunk, or stressed out, or too sleepy etc. People who do that will not be deterred by a lack of traffic signs, any more than they are deterred by the presence of traffic signs. They are likely to have accidents, and if after an accident they are capable of driving, they are likely to do it again. Some sort of coercion might help. They could be sued to the point they can't afford a car. They could be jailed temporarily. They could be confronted by victims who say that if they personally see the perp driving again they personally will shoot him. If there are actually people with poor judgement running around, I doubt there's any foolproof way to keep them out of trouble. They might hurt themselves at least as much as everybody else, though.

terry_freeman on July 21, 2010, 11:33:54 pm
Try this theory on for size: traffic signals, stop signs, lane markings are an attempt by engineers to create a one-size-fits-all solution to improve both safety and throughput. These "solutions" are not adaptive; they do not use all available information; they are static, but the situation is dynamic.

What is the right thing to do if, for example, a truck spills a load in one lane? Route around it. Depending on time of day, it might make even sense to take over a lane which normally moves the opposite direction.

What happens when the outside instructions are removed? Drivers have to think for themselves. It turns out that most drivers are actually quite competent, when they need to be. These experiments encourage drivers to assume more responsibility, and they rise to the challenge.

There sometimes are accidents caused by signals; I have seen a few personally. Drivers, instead of thinking about "how to navigate this intersection safely" are thinking "how to beat this light."
 

J Thomas on July 22, 2010, 10:30:55 am
Try this theory on for size: traffic signals, stop signs, lane markings are an attempt by engineers to create a one-size-fits-all solution to improve both safety and throughput. These "solutions" are not adaptive; they do not use all available information; they are static, but the situation is dynamic.

Yes, that makes sense. However, we have to look at the goals. The public does not want to minimise auto accidents, they want to reduce them to the point that they aren't a big concern. When every year somebody you know dies in an auto accident, you'll see it as a problem. When it happens every ten years then it's just one of those things. And people want to drive without having to think about it a lot. When everybody follows the simple rules nobody gets hurt. When somebody is particularly thoughtless then an accident is likely. The public feels satisfied when they know who to blame it on.

A system where people have to think carefully would probably not seem like a improvement. When I have to be wary driving I slow down and give it a careful look. Set it up so everybody has to think carefully and drive slowly, and they might easily dislike that.

Quote
What happens when the outside instructions are removed? Drivers have to think for themselves. It turns out that most drivers are actually quite competent, when they need to be. These experiments encourage drivers to assume more responsibility, and they rise to the challenge.

There sometimes are accidents caused by signals; I have seen a few personally. Drivers, instead of thinking about "how to navigate this intersection safely" are thinking "how to beat this light."

I've seen traffic lights that flash the number of seconds until they turn red. I thought those were a big improvement but I haven't seen any recently. Were they too expensive? Surely a lot cheaper than the cameras that are going up at every intersection where I live. Maybe they didn't reduce accidents after all, even though it's predictable that they would?

I like your explanation. It goes way beyond the data I found, which can be explained simply by the new design resulting in slower traffic. But it could easily be right.

I cynically think that the US public might not like it. Your argument is that it reduces traffic accidents. But traffic accidents are at about the level the public wants. They would prefer cheaper insurance but not fewer accidents. What they want is for their driving to be over quicker. They want to go faster. Also, when there is an accident they want it to be obvious that it is not their fault. And they like to drive without having to think too much.

Your solution is not good for those. It isn't obvious that people could drive faster. They could adapt to dynamic situations, but they can't exploit new situations quickly because they have to understand it and think about it. The signs etc make it somewhat obvious who to blame. The guy who goes too fast, the guy who drives through the red light, etc. When it's necessary to look at just what happened instead of who broke the rules, then it's likely to turn out that everyone involved is somewhat at fault. Often accidents happen as a result of multiple mistakes that interact.

I'd like to be wrong. Maybe we'll see more signs taken down and maybe Americans will like it.

SandySandfort on July 22, 2010, 11:10:46 am
he public does not want to minimise auto accidents...

Wow! A long, tiring post (elided) based on your totally baseless assumption about what "the public" wants. The mind boggles. Please find some evidence that supports your personal prejudice and bring it before us. Then we will listen.

J Thomas on July 22, 2010, 11:21:44 am
he public does not want to minimise auto accidents...

Wow! A long, tiring post (elided) based on your totally baseless assumption about what "the public" wants. The mind boggles. Please find some evidence that supports your personal prejudice and bring it before us. Then we will listen.

Evidence? Simple, notice what "the public" complains about. Do they object that the traffic laws result in too many accidents? No, they object that there are too many drunk drivers.

Do they complain that the traffic laws treat them like children? No, they complain that their commutes too slow.

They don't like waiting at stoplights, but they don't object when roundabouts get converted into horrible stoplight intersections.

If you want statistical data supporting these assertions I expect it's available and I don't know that I want to dig it up. We're all here to have fun and that doesn't look like enough fun to me, particularly when it's predictable that you will reject my conclusions anyway. I'm willing to agree to disagree on the topic. I like your work and I like a lot of your opinions. Sorry to bore you in return, but maybe later I'll write something you enjoy.

SandySandfort on July 22, 2010, 03:30:42 pm
Evidence? Simple, notice what "the public" complains about. Do they object that the traffic laws result in too many accidents? No, they object that there are too many drunk drivers.

The abstract concept of "the public" does not do anything, one way or the other. By any chance, to you mean people? If so, they complain about a lot of things. It looks to me like you are exhibiting a classic case of psychological projection. See:

  https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Psychological_projection

In any case, I wasn't referring to complaints about the traditional system of traffic control, but to the shared space concept of traffic control design. As far as I can tell, the only folks complaining about that, are town planning departments (duh) and self-interested "spokespeople" for advocacy organizations for the blind and other handicapped people. I wonder what ordinary blind people think about it. I guess no one has asked them.

J Thomas on July 22, 2010, 05:36:06 pm
I wasn't referring to complaints about the traditional system of traffic control, but to the shared space concept of traffic control design.

I have missed any post in this thread where you referred to complaints.

Quote
As far as I can tell, the only folks complaining about that, are town planning departments (duh) and self-interested "spokespeople" for advocacy organizations for the blind and other handicapped people. I wonder what ordinary blind people think about it. I guess no one has asked them.

Wikipedia says the "Shared space" term was only invented in 2003, and it's mostly a european thing, so of course there aren't many Americans complaining about it yet. It's mostly off the radar except for libertarians who like the idea for ideological reasons.

The blind people I've known have done their lobbying pretty actively, they didn't join top-down organizations that told them what to want. I suppose it's possible that the people who say they have to retrain their guide dogs to guide them without sidewalks etc have made up the problem out of nothing for their own self-interested reasons, but it doesn't seem plausible. However, they don't say it's impossible, only that it will take considerable retraining.

Advocates of shared space say that accident rates are reduced, and they tend to make no bones of it -- accident rates are reduced partly because traffic speed is reduced.

From the Wikipedia entry on "shared space",

"When you don't exactly know who has right of way, you tend to seek eye contact with other road users... You automatically reduce your speed, you have contact with other people and you take greater care."

"The shared space philosophy distinguishes between the fine-meshed slow network, and the larger-meshed fast network. The slow network, which is the subject of the shared space treatment, is characterised as the street network which make public space vital and accessible. On the slow network motor traffic is welcomed as a guest, but has to adapt to certain social norms of behaviour. The layout of the road must make this clear. The fast or supra traffic network, which allows traffic to reach destinations quickly, and which is designed using traditional traffic engineering methodologies, is essential if the slow network is to function properly."

".... The re-opening of the street has led to a 93% reduction in motor vehicle trips (12,000 fewer per day) and lower speeds (to around 10 MPH), alongside an increase in cyclist and pedestrian usage (93% and 162%, respectively)."

"The result has been slower traffic, fewer accidents, and shorter trip times."

If you want to guess that US drivers will be delighted by a plan to go 10 mph and not know who has the right of way in order to reduce the number of fender-benders, go ahead. I disagree but I'm only guessing too.

SandySandfort on July 22, 2010, 06:26:45 pm
I have missed any post in this thread where you referred to complaints.

You used it a couple of posts back. You wrote: "Do they complain that the traffic laws treat them like children? No, they complain that their commutes too slow."

Wikipedia says the "Shared space" term was only invented in 2003, and it's mostly a european thing, so of course there aren't many Americans complaining about it yet. It's mostly off the radar except for libertarians who like the idea for ideological reasons.

Don't be jingoistic, Americans are not the only people/public in the world. Seven years is way more than enough time for people to bitch about Shares Space and ask to have street signs put back. As far as I can tell, not enough people share your distrust in free systems enough to add an anti-Shared Space screed to Wikipedia. Sorry Bub, the facts don't support your thesis about what the public doesn't want.

If you want to guess that US drivers will be delighted by a plan to go 10 mph and not know who has the right of way in order to reduce the number of fender-benders, go ahead. I disagree but I'm only guessing too.

Bingo. Your are only guessing. My experience in driving in the States, tells me that Americans are smart enough and flexible enough to see the benefit, especially that throughput actually increases, while accident's decrease. What experience? Have you ever come to an intersection where the stop lights were down? I have seen that many times and never witnessed an accident or even aggressive driver. People are much smarter than you apparently think.

J Thomas on July 23, 2010, 05:00:56 am
I have missed any post in this thread where you referred to complaints.

You used it a couple of posts back. You wrote: "Do they complain that the traffic laws treat them like children? No, they complain that their commutes too slow."

"In any case, I wasn't referring to complaints about the traditional system of traffic control, but to the shared space concept of traffic control design."

I was referring to complaints about the current system to get a sense of what values current US drivers tend to have. Of course they could change their values given new information.

It should be clear that US traffic engineers have traditionally valued speed primarily.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Context_Sensitive_Solutions
"Historically, the speed at which a vehicle can safely travel through the landscape has been regarded as a primary goal of transportation planning since it shortens travel time, saves money (time is money), and improves driver convenience."

Quote
Wikipedia says the "Shared space" term was only invented in 2003, and it's mostly a european thing, so of course there aren't many Americans complaining about it yet. It's mostly off the radar except for libertarians who like the idea for ideological reasons.

Don't be jingoistic, Americans are not the only people/public in the world. Seven years is way more than enough time for people to bitch about Shares Space and ask to have street signs put back.

Sure, but it's a tiny fraction of europeans who've had to deal with a lot of it too, so far.. The complaints Wikipedia reports have come from pedestrians and bicyclists who do not trust the automobile drivers. In some places drivers have "voted with their feet" ;) by avoiding the shared spaces. Since it's so few spaces, it's only drivers who have no better route who'd complain. I want to note that the complaints from blind etc pedestrians and from bicyclists involve distrust rather than a record of accidents. With experience they might find that drivers are usually more trustworthy than they think. There were some complaints about aggressive drivers, but of course you get that with traditional roads too.

Quote
As far as I can tell, not enough people share your distrust in free systems enough to add an anti-Shared Space screed to Wikipedia. Sorry Bub, the facts don't support your thesis about what the public doesn't want.

I expect that while shared spaces stay rare, complaints about them will be rare too. Shared spaces definitely have a place for upscale downtown areas, along with streets where no automobiles are allowed at all.

There's a question of values here. You place great value on freedom. I think that's a good thing too. I want to point out that the current system is based on other values that also have some use. It usually allows faster traffic. It requires less thinking from drivers. When there is an accident it is often easy to tell whose fault it is. We have a trade-off.

The free system sounds good when you're arguing for freedom. It ought to have fewer accidents, and there's some data that it does. There are people who argue that it can't work, and it's heartening that it does work.

The examples I've seen so far where it works are all small places where local traffic was going rather slowly anyway. For some of them the amount of traffic has since gone up with no obvious problems. For others the amount of traffic has gone down, sometimes by quite a bit, as drivers who want to get somewhere bypass the shared spaces. It works better for avoiding accidents, and worse for getting people places with maximal convenience. A trade-off.

Quote
If you want to guess that US drivers will be delighted by a plan to go 10 mph and not know who has the right of way in order to reduce the number of fender-benders, go ahead. I disagree but I'm only guessing too.

Bingo. Your are only guessing. My experience in driving in the States, tells me that Americans are smart enough and flexible enough to see the benefit, especially that throughput actually increases, while accident's decrease. What experience? Have you ever come to an intersection where the stop lights were down? I have seen that many times and never witnessed an accident or even aggressive driver. People are much smarter than you apparently think.

In my town, often at night the streetlights are partly down. They flash yellow in one direction and red in the other. There isn't a lot of traffic and there's no particular problem, and I don't have to wait (up to six minutes for a left turn!) at a red light when no one is coming.

Very occasionally the stop lights go out altogether. Then everybody slows down. I come to an intersection and stop and check whether I can go. At busy intersections it's obviously slower than having stoplights. But the stoplights sometimes stop people when there's no one coming the other way, a clear loss. I have seen aggressive drivers then, but not a lot of them. Not as many as zoom through almost-red lights. I avoid accidents from that by not starting when I get a green light until I'm sure all the sideways traffic has stopped.

I am not at all convinced that throughput goes up for high-volume traffic at intersections without stoplights versus with stoplights. I could easily believe that throughput is higher at high-volume roundabouts than at high-volume intersections with stoplights, provided drivers have sufficient experience with roundabouts. This is a traffic-engineering issue and not a freedom issue.

There's a former traffic circle near my home. They cut a straight path through the center for the road with more traffic. To make a left turn onto that road you go right onto the circle and then make an immediate left turn through the middle, when the first stop light lets you. If the second stoplight turns red then you wait inside the circle. The whole thing is incredibly clumsy. They wanted to get rid of the roundabout and they did.

ContraryGuy on July 26, 2010, 12:22:22 pm
Wow, this is why nobody will willingly join your Anarchist cabal, Sandy.

(i didnt see the 'reply to' link, so this is a general reply.)

Whenever someone asks a question, you get all huffy and refuse to answer them.
You certainly refuse to answer me...., and this guy is no different.

If a random reader comes along and asks a question, you dont bother to answer their specific question(s), you merely tell them 'I've spent a decade reading up on this idea, and I cant answer your question until you've spent as much time reading as I have!  here are some fine books to get you started.  Now get out of here and stop bothering me!'

And then all of the other forum posters join in to deride and sneer at the hapless new reader/poster.

Way to turn off people!

SandySandfort on July 26, 2010, 01:09:32 pm
Wow, this is why nobody will willingly join your Anarchist cabal, Sandy.

"Anarchist cabal"? Methinks you are a bit unclear on the concept.  ;D

Whenever someone asks a question, you get all huffy and refuse to answer them.
You certainly refuse to answer me...., and this guy is no different.

Huffy? Sarcastic, yes, but rarely huffy. Anyway, I just looked back on this thread and I find no post from you. Makes it a wee bit difficult to answer, don't you think? So what was your question? (I think you need to change your meds. If you did post to this topics and I missed it, let me know so I can change my meds.)   :P

If a random reader comes along and asks a question, you dont bother to answer their specific question(s), you merely tell them 'I've spent a decade reading up on this idea, and I cant answer your question until you've spent as much time reading as I have!  here are some fine books to get you started.  Now get out of here and stop bothering me!'
Way to turn off people!

Is that, like an exact quote? Gee, I don't remember ever saying such a thing. Maybe I was having a senior moment. And for the record, I would never tell you to get out of here. You promise to provide too much comic relief, plus you give me the opportunity to unleash my anarchist, co-conspirator, attack dog posse to rip your arguments to shreds. Today ContraryGuy; Morgen die ganze Welt!

jamesd on July 26, 2010, 10:25:03 pm
If a random reader comes along and asks a question, you dont bother to answer their specific question(s), you merely tell them 'I've spent a decade reading up on this idea, and I cant answer your question until you've spent as much time reading as I have!  here are some fine books to get you started.  Now get out of here and stop bothering me!'
If someone asks a question that presupposes that anarchy is necessarily lawless and violent, well people are apt to get hufffy.  Better to ask where will laws come from, or perhaps a more concrete question - like “what stops someone rich and powerful getting away with murder?”, rather than a question that presupposes that you are right and everyone knows it, and the anarchist is wrong, and knows he is wrong.