Monday, November 10, 2014

Naked streets

I am in Phnom Pehn on holiday. The traffic in this city is crazy. The few traffic signals tend to be taken as a suggestion. The roads and footpaths are just full of motorbikes. They are the workhorses of the city. They carry families, freight, hawking stalls. Anything can concievably be carried. 
What is crazy about getting around the city is that - much like the "naked streets" concept gaining popularity in wester cities - there is no traffic control at most intersections in the city. Cars, motorbikes, carts, cyclists and pedestrians just mix in a chaotic muddle on the streets. 

As an outsider it is hair raising walking, cycling or driving anywhere as there are no rules. Traffic tends to slow down and respond to risk, but not all of it. 

According to the proponents of "naked streets" this slows traffic, improves flow and improves safety.
In Cambodia the first is definitely true. The second may be true. The third I would seriously doubt. Is this concept only applicable in a highly regulated society where the rights of the vulnerable road user are protected from the brute force of the 4x4?

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