Part One, Toulmin Analysis
- Main Claim: the article’s main claim is that roads are safer in the absence of road signs. It is a claim that despite the construction of these street lights and signs, the roads are more dangerous.
- Grounds: The existent of Laweiplein and its success is one ground. Another is the previous condition of Laweiplein before Monderman. The success of the no signs decree at Oudehaske is also another ground to Monderman’s claims of safety on the road without signs. Another ground is the map of Boylan Heights by Denis Wood.
- Warrant: There are many cases of traffic accidents despite the display of road signs. It is logical that change is needed and that safer methods implemented. There is a need to reduce these accidents and the cases of traffic congestion.
- Backing: Marcel Proust’s study complements Monderman’s study in that distance are concerning space and time thus keeping commuting times stale unlike in the case of walking. Proust’s supports Monderman’s theory by giving it a basis to thrive thus allowing him to change the conception of time.
- Qualifier: Traffic usually leads to accidents. Although not all, most accidents occur on roads laden with traffic signs due to ignorance. Most of the accidents in Boylan Heights took place on the roads with most signage.
- Rebuttal: Although Monderman’s theory or idea was successful in the small villages it would be unsuccessful in large cities as illustrated by test project conducted in London. The idea could not work in the United States due to stubborn drivers, and the “idiotic” nature of pedestrians means they need more restrictions.
Part Two, Summary
In his article, Vanderbilt seeks out the “Traffic Guru” Hans Monderman whose idea of controlling traffic was high publicized as it involved the use of no warnings, lights or signs on the roads. Vanderbilt opens the article by describing the quiet nature of traffic engineers which was broken by Hans Monderman. Vanderbilt describes how Monderman’s idea made him famous while also informing the readers of Monderman’s death in 2011 because of cancer.
Vanderbilt describes his experienced driving with Monderman in Friesland, Netherlands. He reflects on the nature of the man who was not an obvious candidate to become a traffic revolutionary. Vanderbilt describes Monderman’s birthplace in Leeuwarden, Drachten. It is in this city than Monderman implements his first project of his idea, at the intersection of Laweiplein, which was a success with significance reductions in congestion. Also, the accidents reduced with a substantial number of the drivers and cyclists now prone to using hand or electronic signals. A survey, nevertheless, indicated that residents considered the place more dangerous than before.
Vanderbilt continues by describing Marcel Proust’s theory of how automobiles change “our conception of time and space.” He describes distance as only a relation of time and space. Proust’s notion of the car changing time and space appealed to Monderman. Vanderbilt argues, “Commute times are distance obliterated as if we were driving on the face of a clock.” Unlike pedestrians, transportation means are striving to be more or less stable. Monderman supports the changing of context to change the conception of time.
According to Vanderbilt, traffic signs not only increase people’s speed of movement but also cause to lose knowledge of the local environment. Vanderbilt describes the echoing of Monderman’s work in different projects around Europe as people try to change the traffic world into a social world. Although Monderman’s theory or idea was successful in the small villages, it would be unsuccessful in large cities as illustrated by test project conducted in London. The idea could not work in the United States due to stubborn drivers, and the “idiotic” nature of pedestrians means they need more restrictions.
Part Three, Response
Monderman’s revolutionary idea on congestion and accident limitation described by Vanderbilt, on the surface seems plausible. It is an interesting idea that taps into people’s reliance on the road signs, lights, and warnings. The idea of decongesting the roads using simple features like well-structured intersections rather than traffic signs and lights is highly appealing. The idea illuminates how congestion in the world’s biggest cities can be reduced. However, the idea still looks flawed when imagining its application in big cities which have huge traffics. The idea of transforming a traffic world into a social world is appealing. Nevertheless, many variables are still unexplained, which subsequently question the idea’s credibility.
Monderman’s idea relies heavily on drivers and pedestrians to conform to this initiative which is high probable. Acceptance of the idea by the people would lead to its success. However, any rejection by the people to follow these laid up rules would lead to the idea’s demise. In evaluating the strategy, some questions come in handy. How would the idea be implemented in the big cities? An important question, which would require answering to give the idea any hope of success. Will the initiated projects echoing Monderman’s idea be successful? The projects started in countries like Germany and Sweden that follow in the footsteps of Monderman have the risk of experiencing success or experiencing failure. It would also be important to understand whether other countries and cities would adopt the idea if it is successful in these two countries.
Vanderbilt writes an article that avails food for thought. A well-written article introduces or explains an appealing idea that is unfortunately supported by minimal proof of its success in the large scale.