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.”
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!