Ørje & Ottawa: pedestrians get silly when crossing the street

Inspired by a 1970s Monty Python sketch featuring the Ministry of Silly Walks, the village of Ørje (Norway) has come upon a rather unique method to encourage drivers to slow down: by suggesting pedestrians “walk silly” when crossing the street. The Swedish art collective Kreativiteket designed the sign, taking inspiration from none other than the fabricated ministry.

While technically illegal according to the Norwegian news report, residents, politicians – even drivers – in the tiny town of Ørje (population 2000) have grown quite fond of their unique signage. As the mayor states, “This kind of fun should be allowed.” 

Ministry of Silly Walks

Ørje is not the only city that feels this way. Its unique traffic calming strategy has inspired larger cities to follow step – in a silly sort of way.  Ottawa (Canada) also features several silly signs a few blocks from the Canadian parliament, to encourage busy citizens and lawmakers to be balance silly with seriousness.

This strategy may not be conducive in every city, but I applaud the out-of-the-box thinking, together with innovative methods to question how we move about and interact in our public spaces – including our street spaces.  Traffic calming measures that encourage walking and slower, more attentive, driving? Nothing silly about that!

For more info on these Silly Pedestrian Strategies, check: Fast Co-Create, the Ottawa Citizen and certainly the video featuring the silly walk, linked below!





9 thoughts on “Ørje & Ottawa: pedestrians get silly when crossing the street

  1. Brilliant use of humour to cut through the ‘noise’. Here in Brisbane we have speed cameras attached to LED signs that display a big green smiley face when you’re under the limit and a red frowning face when you’re not and they’re very effective.

    1. Thanks! Yes, I thought it was such a funny example I had to share… indeed humour is such a creative (and underused) way of engaging the public! The initiative in Brisbane sounds interesting, do you have links or other info? Always keen on learning more! 🙂

    1. I’m not surprised! The Dutch are the silliest I know! 🙂 In a good way. The amazingly silly things that one can do on a bike in the NL… after 5 years in Amsterdam, it still makes me smile!
      Amazing though. Perhaps I have to update the blog to add this video! And I love bicycledutch – always! But hadn’t seen this one yet, thanks!

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