Saturday, 12 September 2020

rules of the road

Via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump, our attention is turned toward traffic planning and the evolution of the parking lot as a cultural and ethnographic study, guided and informed largely through the direction of businessman and civil engineer William Phelps Eno (*1858 – †1945).
Despite (and perhaps because) never learning to drive himself, Eno was an early champion for traffic control and regulation—mostly non-existent before his pioneering proposals for London, Paris and New York, and helped to move street signs, cross-walks, one-way streets, roundabouts and traffic islands into mainstream adoption.  Framing regulations, like right-of-way and priority Eno also helped frame the language: to rank was to line up vehicles one behind another aligned with the kerb—what we’d called parallel-parking—whereas to park, was to stand (left for “dead” as opposed to a “live” vehicle continuously occupied by its driver and prepared to move it for the accommodation of others) one’s car at an angle to the street. These new rules quickly revealed the need for dedicated parking lots and streets were becoming more congested and less navigable due to vehicles left unattended. Municipalities attempted to restrict the rank and file to “live” automobiles only but this became unenforceable as ownership increased beyond those whom would or could engage a chauffeur or valet and instead began allocating spaces for off-street parking.