How about, making people switch of autopilot and actually making them think leads to better behavior?
And then notice that removing road signs, traffic rules, etc. is a big change that makes people think. In a place that currently has no rules, you'd probably see better behaviour if you did introduce strict rules.
A longer, more detailed essay that actually went into the reasoning behind Monderman's shared space concept would make exactly this point. When you take away the signs, lines and markings, you force people to pay attention and communicate with each other.
From my experience, CULTURE is the most important factor in whether people abide by rules. If you perceive that everyone follows the rules, then you will too; if you perceive that no one follows them, then you may not. Similar to the broken windows theory about crime.
Yeah, lived there for some time. The traffic there is truly remarkable. It looks insanely dangerous, but I dared do things there as a pedestrian that I wouldn't do here.
For example, I once tried to cross a busy street but didn't plan my route properly (like I would do here) and got stuck. Couldn't move forward or backwards and traffic was coming to me. I was worried for a few moments, but then I noticed that traffic just flowed around me. No horns, no near accidents, no panic, just normal flow.
I'm dubious. A recent trip to the U.S. (SF) felt like utter chaos on the roads and this was reinforced by most cars having at least minor damage.
Contrast with Australia where any intersection of even mild traffic (say within a suburb) has a roundabout to control traffic flow, and all decent traffic intersections have lights etc. Speed and red light cameras are everywhere, everyone uses indicators all the time for everything etc. It sounds overbureaucratic but it means that you can drive around and know what each other driver is likely to do. In contrast, the (apparent) unpredictability and what seems like an attitude of almost deliberate rebellion on U.S. roads seems designed for chaos.
While it may decrease accidents, I would think that the increased stress of going through a town with little to no structure traffic-wise doesn't balance out the benefit. It's akin to throwing dead carcasses around the neighborhood to get people to accept universal healthcare; you don't cause chaos and disorder in order to make it safe. The idea of eliminating bike lanes makes sense, but eliminating traffic lights and road signs is just too much.
One of the reasons I don't like grocery shopping is the traffic problem: having to constantly get around people going variable speeds and making random stops, often times blocking entire aisles. Then if you stop to compare items in a section, you have to be constantly on alert to see if someone is trying to get by or access the same shelf. I imagine driving in a city with no signals/signs would be similar.
The problem with traffic rules is that (at least here in germany) some people don't try to avoid accidents because they think it's not their fault if someone oversees a sign for example. Eleminating rules brings the responsability back to everyone..