Equality Streets seeks to maximise safety, efficiency and quality of life for all road-users. I’m pro-walker, pro-cyclist, pro-choice and not anti-motorist. Cyclists seem to represent their own special interest group to the exclusion of others. Cyclists are included in my scenario, but motorists are usually excluded from campaigns with sustainable in the title. Why not reconfigure roads and traffic law to accommodate everyone equally?
Today’s Mail on Sunday piece about an IEA Paper I co-authored with Richard Wellings twisted our work to fit some anti-Green agenda. The Paper and my accompanying polemic can be found here at the Press tab.
29.12.15 A driver honked at me from behind as I walked diagonally across Tesco car park in Barnstaple. “Where are your manners?” I asked. “Why weren’t you looking where you were going?” he yelled. I struck him dumb with a tirade along the lines of “Ratso” Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy who screams at a New York driver, “I’m walking here!” But in my fury, I missed my chance to explain that I blamed him less than a system which turns people into ill-mannered thugs in the first place. This is another example of the inadequacy of context alone to change the bad habits of a lifetime instilled by the anti-social rules of the road. We need new rules, a new culture and a new driving test. The fundamental rule should be for all road-users to merge more or less in turn. Then we wouldn’t need traffic lights, those weapons of mass distraction, danger and delay, and road rage and “accidents” would melt away.
In the centre of Exeter, on foot, approaching a traffic-lit junction, I saw a gap between clumps of waiting peds, and a bigger gap in the one-way traffic. As I crossed, causing inconvenience to no-one, a driver saw fit to honk his displeasure at me, a wayward ped crossing on his green light. I blame the pillock less than I blame a delinquent traffic control system that subverts the sociable practice of taking it in turns.
This Mail piece quotes me at length about traffic lights-out in Beverley. Keith’s claim that ditching lights would allow main roads to take over is true of the current priority system, but not of roads designed for equality and a social context, nor of drivers who have been reconditioned to observe social values based on equality.
Thunderer piece in today’s Times.
See here the inside story of how VW were exposed.
On reading this piece in the Bournemouth Daily Echo, it becomes clear that the headline claiming “traffic light chaos” is a misrepresentation. A commuter says, “They were totally out and people were going really gingerly through the junction,” – as if that were a bad thing. At one junction, “the lights were stuck on red for extended periods”. But never fear, the lights are now “back to normal”, which means a combination of inappropriate speeds and needless delay.
In this piece, Chris Boardman quotes the number of deaths from nitrous oxide fumes – 23,500 a year – and says investment in cycling infrastructure is a no-brainer. But in the UK you are never sure if it’s going to blow or rain, and in hot weather who wants to arrive in a sweat and a lather? Also you can’t carry much stuff on a bike – I travel a lot with my guitar and/or laptop. There are countless reasons why cycling is an appropriate option only some of the time. This call for a modal shift to cycling strikes me as too one-sided and holier-than-thou for its own good. Quicker gains, which would also cut the annual 23,500-odd casualty toll from “accidents”, would result from scrapping the priority rule and the counterproductive regulation that goes with it.
On PM (29.6.15), there was an item about the danger to pedestrians, especially blind pedestrians, from silent electric cars. Solutions were being sought in technology, e.g. artificial engine noises to warn of an approaching vehicle. Instead of these doomed, expensive attempts to treat symptoms, when will they learn to treat the cause of our road safety problems, viz. priority? Let the onus for road safety be on the driver, not the vulnerable road-user.