Have you ever tried cycling through a city designed purely for cars? It can be a harrowing experience that convinces you to lock up your bike for a few months or move somewhere with the proper cyclist infrastructure. Unfortunately, not every city in the world is pedestrian, driver, and cyclist-friendly, but some have brilliant gadgets that make life easier when navigating traffic.
Below, we’ve gathered some of the most innovative tools cities have utilized on their roads that have been shared in the Urban Equipment subreddit. Be sure to upvote the pics you wish were taken in your hometown, and don’t be scared to start pestering your local lawmakers to implement some of this technology as soon as possible! (H/T)
01. The Speed Camera Lottery In Stockholm, Sweden
Drive at or under the speed limit, and you’ll be entered into a lottery where the prize fund comes from the fines that speeders pay. The average speed was reduced from 32 km/h to 25 km/h (a reduction of 22%).
02. Singapore Traffic Light Allows Seniors/Disabled To Tap Cards To Add Time To Cross
03. A Bike Pump Was Permanently Installed Next To The Bike Lock-Up Area
The Urban Equipment subreddit is dedicated to sharing some of the world’s best traffic lights, benches, street signs, and more. The group has only been around since October 2021 but has already amassed 1.4k members. And lucky for us, the community is excellent at spotting brilliant traffic gadgets from around the globe that many more cities should start utilizing. Some common topics discussed in the subreddit are road safety, traffic lights, urban decorations, street furniture, and street lights, and this list certainly highlights some of the best ones from around the world. Urban Equipment shows that we can find beauty and excitement in the mundane, including the signs we look at to know it’s safe to cross the street and those we often pass by without a second thought.
Regarding what makes a city much more accessible for its inhabitants to navigate, reliable and safe public transport is a significant factor. Unfortunately, not every city in the world has mastered the art of public transit yet, but according to a study conducted by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman and the University of California, Berkeley, the top 10 cities in the world with the best public transportation are Hong Kong, Zurich, Stockholm, Singapore, Helsinki, Oslo, Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, and London. The study’s authors note that some of the areas in these cities excel in are affordability, accessibility, having trains/buses/etc. That comes often, and keeping transit cars clean.
04. This Pole Matching The Traffic Light
05. A Stand For Bikers To Hold On To While Waiting For The Traffic Lights In Sweden
06. Traffic Light With A Mirror To Allow The Drivers To See The Pedestrians/Cyclists That Are In Their Blind Spots
Accessibility and safety are tied as their second most important considerations. When it comes to the areas where places that are lagging in their public transportation offerings can improve, the study found that over half of the commuters in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom noted that affordability is critical for them. One city that has mastered these areas is Helsinki. “It’s multimodal, offering travel by bus, tram, metro, train, and ferry,” the study’s authors write. “A journey planner app created by a startup in Helsinki integrates and connects these different transport modes. A single ticket costs just over $3 and can be used on any travel mode.”
Another essential factor to consider regarding how we get around is sustainability. The study’s authors note that Europe, particularly cities in Scandinavia, are the role models to look to when working on sustainable mobility. “Oslo, often called the world’s electric vehicle capital, leads that sub‑index for the second year in a row – and is not likely to give up that ranking any time soon, given the lead it has secured,” the authors of the study explain. “The city has a dense charging station network and provides a comprehensive package of incentives for electric vehicle owners, like cheaper toll fares and priority access to certain roads. Oslo is home to so many electric vehicle drivers that the city government has even begun dropping some incentives, like free parking, because those incentives are no longer necessary.”
07. Luminous Road Markings In Nantes, France
08. Luminous Bollards At A Pedestrian Crossing In France
09. This Traffic Light Shows How Long You Have To Wait
Aside from public transportation and sustainable vehicles, cities must also cater to those who walk or cycle around. Electric bikes and scooters have become increasingly popular in recent years, but it’s hard to incentivize residents to use them if they don’t feel safe on their cities’ streets. That’s why gadgets like the ones featured on this list are so important. They can not only make our lives easier, but they can also make us much safer. In the United States alone, there were an upsetting 6,516 pedestrian deaths in 2020, with New Mexico being the most dangerous state for pedestrians. And cyclists typically account for about 14% of the national annual pedestrian fatalities. It’s heartbreaking to know that many of these tragedies could have been prevented with the proper infrastructure to keep these pedestrians safe.
10. Montpellier, France. Test Of A Bicycle Path With Photoluminescent Paint
11. These Green Rings Of Light Move At The Pace Of The Speed Limit To Help Gauge Speed
12. A Button For Crossing The Road On A Horse
An audit of pedestrian safety in Dallas, Texas, the city with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in the US in 2020, found that a lack of resources and funding has resulted in crosswalks and pedestrian traffic signals severely in need of maintenance. A study was conducted in Phoenix to understand why pedestrians are so unsafe there. It identified “roadway and land-use characteristics” that make crashes more likely to happen, including limited crosswalks and frequent driveway access and signal equipment that needs to be updated. Without anyone keeping up with these things that should be in place to keep us safe on the roads, being a pedestrian becomes extremely dangerous.
13. In London, The Road Tells You Which Way To Look For Traffic Coming
14. This Traffic Light On The Sidewalk For Pedestrians On Their Phones
15. The Tactile Paving Changes Colors Depending On The Traffic Lights
Regarding how pedestrian fatalities can be prevented, USA Facts explains that practical improvements such as adding more sidewalks and bike lanes can help protect people who aren’t in vehicles. Reducing speed limits in pedestrian-friendly areas and improving visibility is also wise. “Pedestrian crossing islands can help those with limited mobility cross a street safely,” USA Facts notes. “Better signage, including rectangular rapid flash beacons on pedestrian signs and pedestrian countdown timers, can improve pedestrian decision-making and visibility.”
16. New French Concept Of A Luminous Bollard For Pedestrian Crossings Where There are No Traffic Lights, It Turns On When Someone Is Detected
17. Remote Control Used In France By Blind People To Activate The Sound System Of Pedestrian Traffic Lights
18. Luminous Road Barrier
According to Culture Trip, the ten most walkable cities in the world are Florence, New York City, Marrakech, Paris, Vancouver, Buenos Aires, Dubrovnik, Melbourne, Boston, and Vientiane. Now, you can feel free to have a different perspective, as I’m sure plenty of other pedestrian-friendly cities didn’t make it on this list. But you are guaranteed to get around on foot in any of these locations easily! If you’re curious about the cities around the globe that are the most pedestrian-friendly, we’ve got you covered.
19. This Kindergarten In Australia Enforcing One-Way Road With Spikes
20. Bumpy Plates For Blind People, Everywhere In France, I Hope It’s The Same For The Other Countries Too
21. Dunkirk, France, Bus Stop Sign With The Waiting Time
Suppose you’re wondering why it’s so important for cities to be walkable. In that case, we’ve consulted this article from Congress for the New Urbanism that explains some of the top social benefits of pedestrian-friendly cities. First of all, being able to walk places promotes healthier, active lifestyles. This can also improve residents’ happiness and mental health, as walking raises endorphin levels, lowers cortisol levels, and can even help us sleep better. Being more active also reduces obesity and helps fight chronic diseases, so let’s get moving! Being out and about in a walkable city also encourages social interaction, which can lead to a friendlier, more inviting, and safe city. Plus, the more people on the streets, the fewer people there are in cars, which can significantly reduce the number of automobile accidents.
22. This Hourglass Shaped Traffic Light
23. Street Light Modified To Accommodate 4 Surveillance Cameras. Paris, France
24. Metal Equipment That Allows Cyclists To Stand Up Straight While Being Stationary Waiting For The Green Light. Spain
Being out and about can also lead to a decrease in crime. “In Rotterdam, Holland, community members identified traffic speed and street appearance as crime issues,” the CNU explains. “Working with police to improve the public realm dramatically cut crime over two years: drug crime dropped by 30 percent, burglary by 22 percent, and vandalism by 31 percent.”
Walkable cities can also do wonders in broadening universal accessibility and encouraging inclusiveness. “Everyone, at some point, is a pedestrian. Successful public transportation generally begins and ends with a walking trip,” the CNU notes. “Even those who generally drive will find themselves on a crosswalk from time to time. Especially people without a car may be able to easily access their daily needs in a walkable community. Boosting walking helps unlock the city for many of those most in need.”
25. Height Sensor At A Tunnel. If A Vehicle Is Too High, Luminous Warning Signs Will Turn On
26. This U-Turn Only Traffic Light
27. “Incoming Bus” Luminosities Sign, When A City Bus Is Coming, The Sign Is Turned On To Warn The Drivers, France
We hope you’re enjoying this list and getting some ideas about what to start bugging your local city planners about. Keep upvoting the tools you find most appealing, and let us know in the comments if your city has already implemented any of this technology. Then, if you’d like to check out another Architecture & Design article featuring excellent examples of urban planning, look no further than right here! I don’t know about you, A&D followers, but I’m undoubtedly jealous of all the cities with these fabulous gadgets that make pedestrians’ and drivers’ lives easier.
28. Special Light For Pedestrian Crossing, Belgium
29. Controlled Access Area System In Amsterdam, Netherlands
30. Multiple Heights Road Barrier
31. Luminous Direction Sign In Paris
32. Lighting Of The “Tunnel Du Mont Blanc,” France, In The 60s
33. French Pedestrian Signal Used For Some Ski Lift
34. Luminous Bollards That Change Of Color Depending Of The Pedestrian Signal Color. La Défense, France
35. Pedestrian Crossing + Bicycle Crossing In France
36. Colorful Crosswalk, France
37. Yellow Covers To Increase The Visibility Of Bollards During An Event
38. Bollard That Displays The Remaining Allowed Parking Time For Cars (30 Minutes For Each Car). France
39. French Pedestrian Signal LED Panels
40. Road Separator Sign Used In France, It Can Bend In Case Of Accident
41. Pedestrian Light / Bike Light Mix, Spain
42. Parking Luminous Sign
43. Rubber Pole To Limit The Danger For The Bicyclists/Bikers And Better Durability Against Small Impacts
44. Wood Guardrail
45. Via Linea Range Of Road Signs, Integrated Screen Version
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