European towns declaring traffic lights, signs kaput

The town of Bohmte, Germany, is saying “Nein!” to signs and lights in an attempt to reduce traffic troubles.

As of Sept. 12, downtown Bohmte—used by approximately 14,000 cars daily—will be free of both lights and stop signs. Developed by Dutch traffic specialist Hans Monderman, the “Shared Space” plan will give drivers and pedestrians equal right of way.

“Traffic will no longer be dominant,” says Bohmte mayor Klaus Goedejohann.

The European Union is forking over half of the 1.2 million Euros (about $1.69 million) that the plan will cost the 13,600-resident town. Studies have shown drivers ignore about 70% of traffic signs, and the possible combinations of the country's 638 valid traffic symbols create confusion—dangerous in high-flow areas.

Bohmte's move follows similar actions by other European burgs. Drachten, a 45,000-resident city in the Netherlands, has scrapped more than half of its traffic signs. And of its original 18 traffic-light crossings, 16 have been eliminated, with the remaining two converted to roundabouts.

Cities that have eliminated signs and signals have seen a dramatic drop in accidents. Their success has drawn visitors from the United States, Argentina, and other countries looking to learn tricks to take back home.

Florida stadium leaves fans high and dry

On Sept. 15, University of Central Florida Knights fans thirsty for football flocked to a brand-new stadium to see their home team play. But when said fans got thirsty for water, trouble began.

Designers of the $54 million Bright House Networks Stadium failed to include water fountains in the Orlando facility's design. When all the concession stands ran out of the $3 bottles of water they were hawking, lack of fluids (coupled with scorching late-summer temperatures) sent 18 spectators to local hospitals for heat-related ailments.

Not anxious to see fans run dry again, the school acted immediately after the opening-day debacle and installed 50 water fountains. Go, team!