Chinese chaos was not meant to be the cutting edge of traffic design. A response to critics from Linda Baker, author of "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"

By Salon Staff

Published May 26, 2004 7:30PM (EDT)

[Read the story and the letters written in response.]

I was surprised that so many readers misinterpreted my anecdote about China. As I wrote near the end of the essay, "If traffic in the world's most populous country serves as a useful comparison and contrast, it's because second-generation traffic calming is not about anarchy; it's about studied anarchy."

In other words, the traffic in China is not an example of second-generation traffic calming, precisely because there is no "studied" design component to the Chinese street.

I used China as an introductory anecdote because the negotiation and interaction I witnessed between cyclists, pedestrians and drivers suggests a provocative alternative to Western ideas about order, chaos and human psychology in the absence of rules and regulations.

But let me clarify. Traffic anarchy in China may be the organic precursor to second-generation street calming and shared-street ideas. But it bears little resemblance to the studied anarchy advocated by second-generation practitioners in Europe.

-- Linda Baker

Salon Staff

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