Last week's Times of London features a delightfully vicious column offering a libertarian take on that city's long-time-coming decision to give up on its one-way streets:
Transport for London, perhaps the biggest manager of one-way systems in the world, at last acknowledges a truth painfully proved by harrowed pedestrians, bruised bicyclists and infuriated drivers: one-way systems do not work. Cities have been wastefully sacrificed to the false gods of efficiency and rationality. Now we want our cities back.
What follows is an engaging look at the history of the one-way street in London from its invention in the 1800s through the disastrous mid-20th century fetish of regarding speed and flow-through as the only road metrics worth tracking.
To enter any gyratory system - often survivable in a car, more precarious on a bike, but suicidal on foot - is to go on bargaining terms with urban aggression and the one-dimensional solutions of the traffic engineer. In pursuit of something that looks good on a graphic, but does not work on the ground, sinister gyratory systems generate millions of unnecessary miles and thousands of tons of pollution.
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