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The cure for traffic chaos? Remove the signs, lines, lights.

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It's the London you've always imagined. Black taxis and red double-decker buses jostle in thick traffic. Luxury cars purr at the lights. Motorbikes dart through the gaps while coaches and minibuses scramble for scarce parking slots.

All in all, it's hostile terrain for the lowly pedestrian, who is encouraged to avoid the street-level chaos on Exhibition Road by using a dingy underground walkway instead.

But all this could change under plans to bring a Dutch-inspired traffic revolution to London's Museumland neighborhood.

Annoyed at how their upscale neighborhood has been ruined by incessant traffic, local authorities are planning to unveil a radical solution Monday: remove the conventional insignia of the road - traffic lights, white lines, guardrails, sidewalks - and create a single "shared space" for everyone, motorized or not.

At first glance, the idea seems a little reckless. After all, it is only the presence of the crossing signals on Exhibition Road that seems to keep the bewildered, stray tourists from a nasty accident. And governments the world over have long since concluded that the safest way to avoid catastrophe on the roads is to segregate vehicles from pedestrians.

But the experience from Europe would suggest otherwise. The Netherlands in particular, has pioneered a completely new approach to traffic and public space.

And it's a method that is slowly starting to catch on elsewhere, in Denmark, Scandinavia, and now in Britain, which has already experimented over the past two years with various ways to come to grips with traffic jams. London, for instance, began in 2003 to charge motorists to enter the city center. And last year a new toll road was opened near Manchester.

Uncertainty breeds caution
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