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, inconveniencing no-one, a driver saw fit to honk his displeasure at a wayward ped crossing on his green light. I blame the moron less than I blame a delinquent traffic control system that subverts the historic, 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.
This piece in the Evening Standard, about an act of violence by a London bus driver, shows how traffic lights can wind us up to breaking point. Imagine driving a bus to a schedule and being held up, more often than not needlessly, at one set of traffic lights after another. The driver acted badly, of course, but arguably she was provoked by a system of aggravating, vexatious regulation.
So the One Show item was inadequate and the studio comments biased (through lack of information).
The negative storm being kicked up by the blind lobby doesn’t mean shared space is wrong. It reveals the power of the delusion which convinces them that the system of control is safe. Obedience to the system is so ingrained that some people shut their minds to the existing casualty toll and the existence of a better way.
It stresses the need for a change in the rules of the road: from priority – which imposes unequal rights and puts vulnerable road-users at a dangerous disadvantage – to equality, which stimulates civility. Ben Hamilton-Baillie said as much in the piece, but his point was inadequately illustrated.
As stated elsewhere, the biggest indictment of the current system is it puts the onus on the child to beware the motorist. It could and should be the other way round. Instead of making the system intrinsically safe, policymakers require toddlers to learn age-inappropriate road safety drill. It protects them only partially from the rivers of death that surround them. Equality Streets seeks to re-set the power balance. Making roads safe for children will make them safe for everyone, including the blind.
The One Show had a piece about blind people avoiding shared space (2min in at this link). The report itself was OK, but the subsequent comments of the celebrities in the studio, supported by the presenters, suggests that the case for shared space was inadequately made. Would the celebs have been so negative if they had seen what it was like before? Detractors seem unable to think outside the box marked “priority”, which makes roads dangerous in the first place, and produces a “need” for traffic control which fails to make roads safe – under the current system, 25,000 humans are killed or seriously hurt every year! Poynton used to have frequent serious accidents involving pedestrians. Since the scheme opened, there have been none. It’s baffling how people can think it was better before. Poynton represents real progress, and those who live in the anti-social, over-regulated past should adapt.