Criticism where due

I’m critical of traffic officers and policymakers because they oppose change and support a system which is intrinsically dangerous, anti-social and inefficient. It steals our time, damages our health and well-being, defaces streetscapes, and kills our children. Brutality, sociopathy and intolerance are enshrined in the system. In misappropriating and misspending public money, it amounts to a grotesque public disservice. Its lamentable failings are all open to the simple life-enhancing solutions advocated here.

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The mistitled Equalities Commission

Mistitled, because it backs an unequal, inequitable traffic system. Brief response to the call by the Equalities Commission for a moratorium on shared space: here.

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Corporate manslaughter by Parliament and Camden Council

Let it not be forgotten that MPs introduce the legislation that supports the extortion racket that promotes this unspeakable intimidation. England prides itself on being a democratic country, but in matters of parking and traffic control, it might as well be Nazi Germany.


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I’ve lost count of the times I’ve pitched these ideas, to no avail, to the likes of The Today Programme. Likewise, my latest pitch about air quality, emailed today to two people at Newsnight and two at The Times, has brought no reply:

I have two angles on the air quality debate which no-one else seems to be raising:

1. A little-known study finds that modern (GDI = gasoline direct injection) petrol engines emit ten times more particulate matter than diesels. Filters absorb most but not all of the dangerous emissions from diesel engines. Filters for GDI engines cost just £50, and trap 100% of noxious emissions from GDI engines. Manufacturers know this, but because EU regs don’t (yet) require it, they are not bothering to fit, and are refusing to retrofit them.

2. In my 2007 piece, No Idle Matter, I wrote that traffic lights (those weapons of mass distraction, danger and delay – symbols of a dysfunctional system), multiply emissions by a factor of four. Since then I’ve found a lecturer in engineering who supports my thesis and says the multiple is no less than 29!

Too often, when a wider angle is offered to media outlets, MPs and officials, they ignore it, and continue to report, pontificate or make policy that’s ill-informed or ineffective, based as it is on a partial picture.

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Redistibution of public money

A headline item on The Today Programme was the hike in rates for 25% of businesses, which means many will go to the wall. Apparently business rates guarantee tax income of £24bn a year. The underfunding of social care also featured. Another big story this week was the air pollution plaguing our cities and contributing to 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK alone. Of course no mention was made of the role of traffic control in poisoning road-user relationships, blocking flow, and mulitplying emissions by a factor of up to 29. No mention was made of the flaw at the heart of the system, which gives rise to the vexatious regulation that costs lives and costs the earth. As it hoovers up tens of billions in public money every year, the self-serving traffic control industry continues to escape scrutiny, and to preside over an annual peacetime casualty toll in the tens of thousands. The field is crying out for reform, and represents a goldmine for a fairer redistribution of public money.

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A hole in SERA’s holistic approach

Announcing a proposal to limit speeds on the M1 near Sheffield to 60mph, the Today Programme interviewed Samantha Heath of SERA, an environmental pressure group linked to Labour. Her holistic approach seemed to boil down to lower speeds and fewer cars. As usual, no mention was made of my 2007 proposal, voiced in No Idle Matter and supported by among others, Prashant Kumar of Surrey University, to reform the system and remove the prime obstructions to sociable speeds and efficient filtering, viz. traffic lights.

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In my dreams

Yesterday Teresa May gave a speech about a “shared society”. Last night I dreamt I was having a party, when the door bell rang and it was Teresa May. She said she had seen my Equality Streets website and thought the ideas were great. I woke up in a sweat, not because I was excited at the prospect of finally getting somewhere, but because I’d forgotten to turn off the heating.

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Advice to the PM

Teresa May wants a fairer, sharing society. She could start on our roads and public spaces. Replace priority with equality, enabling peaceful give-and-take among all road-users. In the absence of a bridge or flyover, let all junctions be filter (more or less) in turn. That would bring real progress in fairness and sharing. It would transform road safety and air quality, and free up the tens of billions squandered on traffic control for constructive use elsewhere.

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Corporate manslaughter

There is increasing evidence that traffic fumes cause heart disease, respiratory disease, strokes, neurodegenerative conditions, early death, and now dementia. Ten years ago, in No Idle Matter, I wrote that traffic control multiplies harmful emissions by a factor of four. Engineering lecturer at the University of Surrey, Prashant Kumar, says the multiple is as high as 29 – no surprise if you’ve endured the interminable hold-ups from innumerable traffic lights on roads such as the A24 in Balham. Despite the evidence, and proof that sociable filtering without regulation more than halves journey time and emissions, traffic authorities do nothing. Corporate man’s laughter, or corporate manslaughter?

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Football and traffic united ..

… in obtuseness and idiocy. It’s 60 years since instant TV replay was devised, but only now are FIFA are proposing it for future World Cups. Meanwhile, countless injustices, not least Maradona’s ‘hand of God’, continue to take place on fields of play. Similarly, it’s about 60 years since our first stretch of motorway was built, yet only now are witless policymakers proposing to incorporate motorway driving – only voluntarily – into driver education. What is it that make officials so impervious to sensible ideas and change? When the dimensions of the goal were decided in the 19th century, the average man was 4 inches (10cm) shorter, yet the goal size remains unchanged. Road casualties and congestion are at unspeakable levels, yet the powers refuse the reform that would cut congestion and virtually eliminate “accidents”.

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