Ignorance is no excuse; inaction is abuse

Opponents of my reforms are in effect supporters of the current system, which presides over an annual casualty toll of 24,000 souls, many of them children. Ministers, the DfT and local traffic authorities, who back the system, don’t even have the excuse of ignorance.  I’ve lobbied them all, repeatedly.

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In conversation …

… about transforming life on the roads with novelist, Karen Millie James, at lunchtime today on her radio show: http://www.sg1radio.co.uk/karenliveatone

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Uglier than sin

These scenes of waste and neglect on the road in and out of Bideford by Morrisons, caused by traffic priority control, are duplicated up and down the land, every day of every year …

Traffic held at red, nothing happening on the junction

Now all road-users must wait, including the toddler, at the ideal level to inhale the invisible fumes that damage human health and development

Now the lights tell the traffic to go, to ignore the needs of the humans at the roadside, who must wait

And look at those unsightly railings. All this waste, neglect and ugliness stems from traffic control. Freedom to live sociably, instead of subjugation to a dysfunctional system, would transform our lives, health, the economy and the environment. (As mentioned elsewhere, those railed-in islands, where pedestrians have to wait, are known in traffic engineering jargon as “pens”. Yes, to traffic engineers and policymakers, we are no better than sheep.)

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Closing the stable door …

… after the horse has bolted. Presumably traffic authorities never learned that idiom. Their laws and regulations will remain futile and vexatious as long as they fail to treat the root cause of our problems on the road: priority, from which all evils stem. We need a new driving test and rulebook with equality, not priority at its heart. The hierarchy needs to change, with vulnerable road-users at the top. Priority-based regulation and deference to drivers be damned. Re the cyclist who killed the pedestrian: if pedestrians had priority, she could’ve crossed without looking; it would’ve been up to the cyclist to avoid her. Which he tried to do. But she hesitated. The infernal rule of priority made her think she was in the wrong. That hesitation, prompted by the vile rule of priority, was her death sentence. The rules are to blame. They tie us up in knots and make us act like psychopaths or morons.

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Wilful establishment amorality

For imposing an inherently dangerous system which causes untold harm, for wasting billions in public money on a defective system, for killing us invisibly by maximising emissions, for ignoring the life-enhancing solutions brought by me to their attention, I accuse the traffic control system and all who run it of corporate manslaughter and wilful neglect. The press and BBC are complicit by ignoring countless attempts of mine to air the story.

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Clear and present abuse

J’accuse the traffic system and its perpetrators – the DfT, Highways England, TfL, most traffic authorities, successive transport and roads ministers – of systematic abuse, historic and present. I’ve alerted them to life-enhancing, money-saving solutions to our man-made problems on the road, but they persist in committing social, psychological, health & safety, economic, aesthetic and environmental abuse. What brought this on? Yet another vain bid to lobby a minister, who I thought knew better. I told him it was pointless referring my reform proposals to the DfT, but he did so anyway. Find the email trail at Equality Streets > Improperganda.

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The anti-shared space protest planned for tomorrow (5.9.17) outside Parliament is misguided and misinformed.

Too often, shared space is confused with shared (flat) surfaces. Shared space prefers kerbs that are lower than standard, or dropped kerbs – these enable blind people to orientate themselves, and allow wheelchair users easy access – but it does not require or insist on the removal of kerbs, far from it.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie, who coined the term “shared space”, has ditched it in favour of “low-speed environments”. The venerable aim of shared space, or my term, Equality Streets, is to eliminate the conflicting speeds, neglect and aggression which spring from the anti-social rule of priority, and to make roads intrinsically safe by stimulating empathy and cooperation.

By opposing shared space and the reforms that are grotesquely overdue, detractors are supporting the egregious current system, which presides over an annual casualty toll of 20,000+. Ben has tried to communicate with them but they refuse to meet.

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Is the cyclist guilty?

Predictably, Charlie Alliston was found guilty of ‘wanton or furious driving’. Equally predictably, the rules of the road, and the anonymous perpetrators of an intrinsically dangerous system, escaped without a mention, as they do every day of every year.

In a sense, Alliston was only following the wanton and ferocious system of (main road) priority, which imposes unequal rights, and endangers the vulnerable. If the onus were on the driver, or in this case the cyclist, to beware the pedestrian, instead of the other way round, Kim Briggs would have continued her walk in safety. Her family and friends would not be mourning her loss. Alliston would be innocent. He would not be facing prison.

The event was tragic because under the current system it was inevitable. Given reform along the lines advocate here – a sociable set-up based on equality rather than a regulatory system based on priority – the event would not have happened in the first place.

Alliston and Briggs are unwitting victims of a system which makes roads dangerous in the first place. Blame should be directed at the system itself.

There are calls for more enforcement of “the rules”. Given a system based on equality – “After you” instead of “Get out of my way!” – and a reformed driving test, enforcement will be unnecessary. Equality will stimulate empathy for fellow road-users and, at last, bring peace to our roads.

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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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