Friday, 20 November 2009

This evening I watched 'Landward' on BBC2 at 7pm (just incase you want to watch it, I really enjoy it!). The main presenter, Dougie Vipond, visited the Dutch village of Drachten which has no road signs and asked whether Scotland should take a similar approach. The Dutch transport planner, Monderman's idea was simple: if you treat people like idiots, they'll behave like them. So instead of signing everything in the environment, he thinks we should force people to work it out for themselves. No signs, no speed limits, but instead full mixed road use for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. In Drachten, Monderman has designed a junction without road markings, traffic lights or signs, which he says makes the road more dangerous in order to make them safer. There are no pavements and children's play areas are part of the road, forcing people to take their time and far more care.
Watching the footage of the idilic Drachten, with children playing in the streets and cyclists gliding by I found myself thinking what a great idea it was and how wonderful it would be if it really did happen in Scotland. Thinking of Scotland, however, it struck me: What's the biggest problem on our roads which does't seem to feature on the quaint roads of Drachten? NEDS and boy racers! Can you imagine the chaos which would ensue?!
This led me to think about the debate over alcohol age limits. Various countries on the continent have lower age limits than Britain and don't have the problems which we have. Surely making something forbidden is just making it more attractive and a bit of a challenge to a curious youngster? Many foreign countries have a totally different attitude to alcohol and I believe it's deeply set into their culture. Countries such as France, enjoy alcohol together as families and communities making it a normal part of life. There's no mystery or fascination, they're introduced to it at an early age and in a safe environment.
Could Britain really adapt it's culture?

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