Clarkson’s not wrong

Clarkson says speed limits are “annoying”. Even worse, they are counterproductive. Traffic regulation treats us like simpletons, or automatons. We should learn to drive by context, not by numbers. Brake! would claim that freedom to choose our own speed would be a charter for driving without due care and attention. No, it’s a blueprint for driving with true care and attention.

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Missing the point again

To cut the deficit, the Govt is thinking of selling its stake in Eurostar, which could raise £20bn. Among other national assets it might flog is the Royal Mint. Meanwhile, traffic regulation, which acts to our detriment and costs tens of billions of public money every year, is overlooked.

 

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Grotesque government ignorance

To cut the deficit, the Govt is thinking of selling its stake in Eurostar, which could raise £20bn. Among other national assets it might flog is the Royal Mint. Meanwhile, traffic regulation, which acts to our detriment and costs tens of billions of public money every year, is overlooked.

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Priority no priority

I go on about priority being the fatal flaw at the heart of the traffic system – how it’s a diabolical basis for road-user relationships, how it sets the stage for neglect and danger, how it produces a doomed, retrospective “need” for expensive, inefficient regulation, how it treats symptoms instead of the cause, and how, by replacing priority with equality, we would see most of problems on the road disappear. For years I’ve pitched the ideas to TV, because a TV series would be the optimum way to communicate the perception shift that needs to underpin the reforms that are so scandalously overdue. But TV has always found limp reasons for not greenlighting the project, perhaps because they genuinely think that fairy cakes are more important than children’s lives, and therefore more deserving of airtime. For years I’ve lobbied governments. Nothing doing there either. So the broadcast and political establishments resist and fail to support change, to their shame and our continued detriment. The avoidable deaths and life-changing injuries of thousands of innocents in peacetime Britain are of no interest to them. With gruesome irony, they give the subject no priority. The Press, too, have proved useless and apathetic.

 

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Abuse of human nature

On the road, as in other travels in life, freedom + responsibility + education empower us in good ways. By contrast, vexatious regulation puts road-user relationships on a war footing, disempowering us. If policymakers used instead of abused our cooperative social instincts, things could be so simple. But the unmentionables who lord it over us – at great expense, injustice and harm – stand guard at their citadels built on the graves of innocent victims, and make things needlessly difficult. They should face corporate manslaughter charges. With an apostrophe and a space, that term becomes corporate man’s laughter. They fuck us up, the engineers; they may not mean to, but they do. (Of course it’s not exclusively engineers, but that’s the only term that scans in the rhythm of Larkin’s poem.)

 

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Merchant bankers?

Are they all merchants!? Instead of making roads intrinsically safe, by replacing priority with equality, traffic authorities spend fortunes on retrospective “solutions” which are not solutions at all. Instead of integrating all modes in a mutually-tolerant mix, they segregate, corral, and put us at odds with each other! This links to an article outlining Boris’s plans for segregated cycle lanes in Westminster. I can see them rubbing their hands together as they contemplate more revenue from ENFORCEMENT of yet more counterproductive REGULATION!

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My own backyard

Local press confirms Council rethink over pedestrianisation after hearing my Equality Streets presentation.

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A million miles

“We have to get away from the patronising view that the state knows better than the individual,” stated Chancellor, George Osborne, on 21 July 2014, “about how to spend its money.” He was referring to pensions reform, and is still a million miles away from applying that commonsense to traffic and road-user relationships.

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Buffoons in charge of transport

It seems a mark of the relatively low esteem in which transport is held in this country that Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, retained his role in the recent reshuffle. He thinks most if not all accidents are caused by people using mobile phones. I actually heard him say that last year at a UN conference on road safety which I was invited to attend. What a buffoon, I thought, but bit my lip. The reason roads are dangerous is because they are subject to the dysfunctional rule of priority, which promotes neglect and licenses aggression. If we lived by equality (“After you”) instead of lived and died by priority (“Get out of my way!”), most of our road safety problems would disappear. McLoughlin is no different from his predecessors, including Philip Hammond, now Foreign Secretary. All transport ministers are as bad as each other, and that includes Labour ones. McLoughlin is wedded to HS2, the spawn of Labour transport minister, Lord Adonis. The RSA says northern transport connectivity should be prioritised. So does poet, Simon Armitage. Instead of another conduit to London, siphoning off work and encouraging Northerners to head for the capital, says Armitage, the £50-odd billion should be spent on lateral links between northeast and northwest, creating a humming northern hub of social and economic activity. In addition to that sensible re-allocation of funds, of course, is the potential in traffic system reform for efficiency savings that would pay for roadway redesign that expresses a social instead of a traffic engineering context, as well as a programme of re-education that would change the culture of the road from priority and hostility to equality and empathy.

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The nub of it

The current traffic system, founded on the anti-social idea of priority, embodies a culture of violence and intimidation. It encourages intolerance and inappropriate speeds, denying infinite filtering opportunities and expressions of fellow feeling. Priority produces a “need” for expensive, vexatious regulation which, by treating symptoms instead of causes, amounts to an exercise in self-defeat. The solution is a simple, sociable one: equality, not priority, as a basis for road-user relationships. “After you,” instead of “Get out of my way!”

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