“Here too it’s masquerade, I find”*…
Is confusion a good way to encourage safer driving? That seems to be the idea behind a new traffic calming ploy in Cambridge, England. The city reopened a remodeled street last week featuring what appears, at first, to be a roundabout. Look carefully, however, and you’ll notice that it isn’t a roundabout at all. It’s simply a circle of bricks laid into the street and adjoining sidewalk. It’s practical function is essentially nothing.
Or is it? The city’s thinking is that drivers will instinctively slow down when they approach this ghost roundabout. When they get closer, they will realize they’re actually on a normal street, and accelerate—but in the meantime they will have slowed down and watched the road more carefully on what could be a potentially dangerous corner.
The plan is interesting, if strangely devious, but it hasn’t received the warmest of welcomes from locals…
And … the whole thing is just a little eerie. There’s something unnervingly contemporary about road markings that seek to control drivers specifically through confusion and misinformation. The roundel essentially attempts to undermine drivers’ ability to tell what is real and what is false. It then uses their perplexity to enforce more submissive, hesitant behavior. In a contemporary scene where the concept of “post-truth” has become so ubiquitous that it’s moved from buzzword to cliché, it seems that even road planners are now tapping into the trend for misinformation…
Take the trip in full at “Britain’s Totally Fake Roundabout Is Driving Locals Crazy.”
As we prepare to circle, we might spare a cartographically-correct thought for Gerardus Mercator; he died on this date in 1594. The most renown cartographer of his time, he created a world map based on a new projection– the Mercator Projection— which represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines, an approach still employed in nautical charts used for navigation.
While he was most esteemed as the foremost geographer of his day, Mercator was also an accomplished engraver, calligrapher and maker of globes and scientific instruments. And he studied theology, philosophy, history, mathematics, and magnetism.