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Rules, regulation, regard

Bali continues to be intriguing and eventful. A much travelled place, especially for Australians, it remains oustandingly itself. And again here I am struck by a difference: the absence of legislated rules, and the presence and power of unwritten ones. It is kind of liberating to be able to sit in a taxi with our one-year-old on my knee and not have to worry about seat belts or being booked for not having one. Yes I can hear the outcries already. Am I crazy! I said it was ‘liberating’. It is also terrifying. I would like to look at the stats here…and I shall try to find them. Because a crash is likely to be disastrous. Even if infrequent. Balinese for the most part travel fairly slowly and with much indication of where they are intending to go; and with a great deal of consideration for the movements of others. Non-balinese (ie lots of australians among others) less familiar with the unwritten rules, expectations and obligations, tend it seems, to travel a lot faster, and wit less regard. Certainly with less knowledge, less familiarity and yet I suspect, greater risk. Sounds like a bad combo to me. I am reminded of David Enwicht, futurist and deviser of traffic movement systems, who at an Injury and Prevention Network conference in Aoteroa New Zealand 2007, had this to say:

‘…in an EU-funded ‘Shared Space Project’, more than 30 villages in the Netherlands, and several other places in Europe, are actually removing traffic control devices to deliberately create driver uncertainty. As a result, speeds have reduced dramatically and there has been an increase in safety. Drivers are forced to look each other in the eye and negotiate their way through the space.’


There is something in this idea of encouraging looking after yourself AND others and relying less on rules to do this. I find it appealing. David, at the same conference, had this to say:

‘It seems counter-intuitive, but perceptions of danger can make people act more responsibly. Making things appear safer encourages them to take more risk.’

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