What if We Got Rid of the Streetlights?

"Shared streets" guru Ben Hamilton-Baillie has shown in the U.K. that there are a lot of better ways to manage traffic than stoplights. CNU asked Ben, as he prepares to come to the United States, if shared streets could work here.

2 minute read

May 3, 2014, 11:00 AM PDT

By Tim Halbur


Stoplight and lights

hxdbzxy / Shutterstock

"I am convinced that the principle of shared space and low-speed, civilised streets could be beneficially applied in North America," said Hamilton-Baillie in the interview. "Although the urban form, scale and context is often very different – and often particularly challenging! – human psychology is the same everywhere. And it is working with the grain of human behaviour and interaction which lies at the heart of shared space."

The Town of Ponyton, UK is one of Hamilton-Baillie's success stories. A video about the town's transformation can be seen here. The video shows the importance of paving materials and other subtle cues that slow traffic and make it possible to combine people, bikes and traffic safely. 

"Just as in architecture, paving materials help convey values, priorities and purpose," says Hamilton-Baillie. "Recent street design has often been limited to a very limited palette of asphalt or concrete. Whilst these are excellent materials, we often use a much wider range of paving materials such as blocks, setts or cobbles, materials that can respond to the buildings or surroundings, and which can influence behaviour through our visual, auditory and tactile senses. Blocks often suggest lower speeds, and can be useful to contrast with more linear elements of streets. But we also use surface applications, paints, bonded gravel – anything that helps tell a rich story."

Ben Hamilton-Baillie will be sharing his experience with shared streets on June 6th at CNU 22 in Buffalo, New York.

Friday, May 2, 2014 in Congress for the New Urbanism

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Green meadow with water running through and trees on either side in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Meadow Undergoing Major Restoration

Rangeland recently acquired from private owners is being restored to a more natural state thanks to a purchase by the Trust for Public Land.

1 hour ago - San Francisco Chronicle

Large black SYV driving down city street with blurred background.

GAO to Investigate How Vehicle Design Impacts Safety

A lax set of rules around vehicle size, height, and other factors is partly responsible for the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths in the United States.

2 hours ago - Streetsblog USA

Worker in yellow safety suit holding up orange SLOW sign on road

New Orleans Faces $1 Billion Shortfall for FEMA-Funded Roadwork

After years of delays, cost overruns, and deadline extensions on a FEMA-funded street repair program, New Orleans officials face a massive funding shortfall and accusations of mismanagement.

3 hours ago - NOLA.com

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.