The initial idea of this page was to record number plates of drivers who block the middle lane. Using the inside lane except when overtaking, which is Highway Code, would release a third or more of road capacity, thereby reducing congestion, stress and “accidents”. But publishing number plates could be tricky, so this will be a file for examples of negligence, hypocrisy and “improperganda” (no date order except for the first item, which documents a recent bid to get a meeting with the current roads minister, Jesse Norman) …
From: Martin Cassini
Sent: 11 July 2017 21:04
To: NORMAN, Jesse
Jesse, I have new information which further supports my case against standard traffic control, with particular reference to the economy and the environment. Any chance of a meeting?
Thanks for your email. As you may have noted, I am now Roads Minister. Can you send me what you have in a letter, and I will ask my officials to respond with a briefing. It may then make sense for you to come in and talk to them and me.
Me to Jesse
The trouble with referring ideas to the Humphrey Applebys of this world is they are averse to change. The lead should come from an intelligent politician. I can send you something by email, but I’d prefer you to consider it as an individual in your own right. The transformation and regeneration of Poynton happened because Howard Murray, a local councillor (Con.), had the confidence to drive change against fierce opposition from, among others, unelected officials.
No reply, so on 22 August I wrote:
As Antony Jay showed in Yes, Minister, and Tony Blair said in a recent interview with Peter Hennessy, bureaucracies are good at managing existing systems but not good at embracing change. Also, experience has taught me that referring my reform proposals to the DfT will be fruitless.
A few years ago I was keynote speaker at a traffic conference, sharing the stage with Director of the Highways Agency and Chief Operating Officer of TfL. My presentation combined a critique of the current system with proposals for change based on my core proposal, viz. to change the basic rule of the road from priority (“Get out of my way!”) to equality (“After you”).
Among those who approached me afterwards was senior official at the DfT, Suku Phull. He was enthusiastic, and we corresponded for a bit. A while later, I had reason to contact the DfT via another channel, over a local T-junction which suffered from the usual problems of congestion and danger. I proposed turning it into an all-way give-way, or merge-in-turn, with no main road priority.
The DfT wrote back saying it would be confusing for drivers, “who needed clarity about who had priority”. The letter was signed by Suku Phull.
Having seen the point during my talk – that priority is the fatal flaw which makes roads dangerous in the first place (by imposing unequal rights, etc) – he reverted to type in his official reply, failing to acknowledge that most “accidents” occur at priority and signal-controlled junctions, and that the very absence of priority makes roads truly safe by reducing approach speeds and stimulating cooperation. You see it time and again when traffic lights break down. Peaceful anarchy – in the original sense of the word, self-government – breaks out.
It is standard for traffic officers to resist reform (and standard for councillors and politicians to defer to them). As far back as 2004, I had the agreement of Antoine Aubert, a Brent traffic engineer, to a lights-off trial at Staples Corner. TfL, who “own” the road, refused. Over the years I have had refusals from numerous authorities, among them Bristol, Taunton, Oxford, Cambridge, Hereford and Reading. When trying to persuade Leicester to adopt Equality Streets at a notorious junction, I was told by an Arup consultant that we had to tread softly to get traffic officers on board.
I sought advice from Howard Murray, the councillor who, in the teeth of opposition from local detractors and council officers, championed the transformation of Poynton.
He replied, “My suggestion for a way forward is to get a politician on board, someone with the balls to stand up to the paid officers and tell them what to do. They will follow, albeit kicking and screaming, lying and scheming most of the time”.
If officers fear being sued in the event of an “accident” during a lights-off trial, they are misguided [I attached an extract from the DfT’s Manual for Streets saying that in the absence of control, e.g. when lights fail, road-users are expected to exercise caution – implying, ironically, that when lights are working, they can revert to norms of neglect]. In any event, with no priority, no lights and equal rights, approach speeds are low. Any collisions that might occur will be minor (unlike “collisions” at priority or traffic-lit junctions where high speeds conflict lethally with low).
While writing … WANTED: a town or city to go traffic light-free, to show that given equality instead of priority, and roads that express a social context, road-users will rediscover their humanity, act sociably and co-exist in harmony. The approach harnesses our genius for cooperation, and renders standard traffic control – which costs lives and costs the earth – redundant. For a possible BBC series.
You might also have a look at this piece, which discusses the rationale for change and the vast potential savings for the public purse.
Dear Mr Cassini
Thank you for your email to Jesse Norman, the contents of which have been noted. In order to respond to the issues in your email, I would be grateful if you would provide your full postal address.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Susie Macleod | Caseworker for Jesse Norman MP
I sent my address. Then:
Thank you for confirming your address. As you are not a constituent, I have forwarded your email to the Department for Transport for a response and you will hear from them direct.
Me to: Susie/Jesse,
I specifically asked you not to forward the email to the DfT! It was for Jesse Norman’s information pending a meeting, and not to be shared with the very people who are programmed to resist change. Please tell me you haven’t forwarded it. What does it matter that I’m not a constituent? These ideas are universal, for the common good. As I said, referring them to people who are part of the problem, not the solution, is pointless.
I am afraid I cannot see where you have specifically asked that the email is not forwarded to the DfT and it has been sent to them already.
As you are not a constituent and your email relates to transport issues, normal practice is to forward the email to the DfT as Jesse is Minister for Transport; this is the only way in which Jesse could respond to your email. As you do not live in the Hereford and South Herefordshire constituency he would not be able to take this matter forward for you due to the rules relating to Parliamentary correspondence.
I might not have spelled it out this time, but my previous email did spell it out, and anyone reading today’s email could see it is addressed to Jesse and was not for DfT officials who come in for withering criticism in the email.
It’s absurd that Ministers are prevented from communicating with experts in the field. I briefed three former Shadow Transport or Roads Ministers: Chris Grayling (via George Osborne), Owen Paterson, and Robert Goodwill.
If the Parliamentary rules prohibit open communication, then the matter could be pursued by John Harrington (copied in), a Hereford constituent who called me in a few years ago to advise him (representing a concerned group) about what could be done to alleviate the traffic situation in the city. We met Jesse then, which is part of the reason I am contacting him now, as he knows me. (John has since weighed in, and asked for a meeting with me in attendance. I don’t hold out great hope.)
Today, 13 September 2017, I received this from the DfT:
I forwarded it to Jesse with this note:
The reply from the DfT was predictable and reveals the depth of official obduracy. They are wedded to a system which is defective, dangerous, inefficient and costs the earth. Shame on them.
END OF THAT EXCHANGE
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve emailed the Today Programme, to no avail and with no reply, along the lines of these two recent attempts (recent at the time of writing):
11.5.17: “I have a coherent solution to many of our public funding problems, as well as our (largely self-inflicted) road safety and air quality problems. Please have a look at this, even just the first page.
15.5.17: “You invited me on the programme last year to debate access and safety for blind people in shared space. Unfortunately I was unavailable. In addition to having the solution to that knotty problem, I have solutions to most of our road safety and many of our (largely self-inflicted) congestion and air quality problems. At the same time, my under-reported reforms would liberate tens of billions from the public purse for constructive use elsewhere.”
18 MAY 2016
Email to Grant Shapps of BIG (the British Infrastructure Group)
The IEA sent me the link to your BIG Report, which draws on our IEA piece. I wanted to bring some other material to your attention. This is a one-page summary of an earlier IEA piece which appeared in ConservativeHome in 2010. It went largely unnoticed.
In my companion piece to Seeing Red, I was able to write more freely and make bold speculations. A summary of the potential savings from traffic system reform is on the last page. My estimate is £100 billion, on a continuing basis.
I brought much of this to the attention of Chris Grayling when he was Shadow Transport, and Owen Paterson, when he was Shadow Roads. I asked Chris Grayling for a role in bringing about the reforms. I still want one. Later, I briefed Robert Goodwill when he was Shadow Roads. Yet he remains stuck on the road to nowhere, spending untold millions on road signs saying THINK! as if that was any sort of solution to the inherent danger on our roads, which emanates from the dysfunctional rule of priority. Similarly, Patrick McLoughlin misses the cause of our road safety problems and seems to think all accidents are due to mobile phone use.
On the front of your Report, you quote Edmund King saying the UK has an enviable road safety record. 25,000 human beings, many of them children, killed or hurt on our roads every year, is no cause for complacency. Most “accidents” are not accidents. They are events contrived by the rules and design of the road.
Another scandal is the deference paid by most elected representatives to paid officers. Poynton happened because the Conservative councillor, Howard Murray (copied in), had the gumption to overcome resistance from all quarters.
Your paper calls on traffic authorities to rethink the over-regulation that for decades has been jamming our roads, damaging air quality and failing to make roads safe. But as you know, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Despite continuing efforts with innumerable traffic authorities, I meet excuses for inaction or resistance at every turn.
FYI, I instigated the Portishead trial. I tried to get the town to go entirely traffic light-free, but they refused. So parts of the town are still at a wasteful standstill because of risk-averse, myopic councils.
Shared spaces has never been a recognised term. The term shared space, coined by Ben Hamilton-Baillie, is problematic because it is often confused with shared (flat, no kerb) surfaces, which blind people understandably fear. Ben now uses the term low speed environments. I coined the term Equality Streets, which for various reasons I’m thinking of changing to Kinder Streets (I have the domain kinderstreets.com).
NO REPLY – posting this on 27 Sept 2017, same date as I’m posting the letter below
24 May 2017 to Tim Ross and Chris Evans of The Telegraph, Jamie Angus of The Today Programme, and Grant Shapps.
Perhaps it’s a sign of success when ideas are copied without being acknowledged. It suggests they have entered general consciousness and are finally seen as commonsense. But it offends my sense of fair play to see plagiarism at work and commentators failing to credit original sources.
Tim, you wrote about Grant Shapps’ BIG report without mentioning our IEA paper which was the source. I’ve been writing about the subject for years, indeed one of the first articles questioning traffic controls appeared in your very newspaper in 2006.
BIG claimed it “has undertaken its own comprehensive research to produce brand new data, the first of its kind, on just how cluttered the UK’s roads are with traffic control measures.” Poppycock. It was a rehash of our Report, albeit acknowledged in one or two footnotes (there should have been an acknowledgement on the title page).
Moreover, it focuses on inefficiency, missing the crucial point about the dysfunctional (unequal) basis of the system which makes roads intrinsically unsafe. Most traffic control is a vain bid to mitigate self-inflicted problems.
BIG quoted the usual suspects, such as Edmund King, who also misses the point about a system that is not only intrinsically inefficient but intrinsically dangerous. Indeed worse – King congratulates the UK for its “enviable safety record”! 25,000 humans killed or disabled on our roads every year, many of them children – enviable?
Similarly, Lyle, of RAC public affairs, says traffic controls are essential for our safety. Wrong. The latest safety audit from Westminster City Council showed that 44% of personal injury “accidents” occurred at traffic lights. How many of the remaining 56% were due to the dysfunctional system of priority (aka inequality)? Based on the defective context of priority, the stats, of course, don’t tell us. I put “accidents” in inverted commas because most accidents are not accidents. They are events contrived by the misguided rules and design of the road.
Putting the RAC quotes at the front of his “pioneering” report shows that Shapps too missed at least half the point. He also misses the point about 20mph – the stupidity of making us drive by numbers instead of context has not entered his head.
A few further observations about the BIG Report:
5. “the priority should be to make journeys as fast and cheap as possible” – To omit the subject of road safety is inexcusable. The only mention is when they quote (without crediting) me about Portishead.
8. This makes no sense: “The average household spent £74.80 per week on transport in 2014, overtaking housing costs (excluding mortgages), where the average overall weekly spend was £531.”
10. Meaningless sentence: “The current state of traffic regulation and control in the UK is overwhelming and not working.”
11. Repetitive (and dubious) content, and dire copy editing: “It must be said that these controls are not necessarily always bad things in of themselves.”
12. “Traffic control and management is a hugely expensive business, with highways authorities in England alone spending around £1.5 billion on traffic management, road safety, planning, policy, strategy and parking services.” – Here he seems to be quoting our paper, but the cost of those things is FAR higher! The DfT alone costs at least £6bn to run, and TfL over £5bn!
15. “when drivers break and accelerate” – !
21. Unsupported assertion, with no rationale or context: “the UK has around 43,226 controlled junctions on its 245,068 mile long road network. As a result of this, BIG can reveal that for every 5.7 miles of road there is a controlled junction or crossing slowing the network down.”
22. Again, unlike our Report and my other stuff, BIG provides no context for this claim: “When you consider that the majority of traffic lights could be removed without detriment and would in fact improve the efficiency of the road network” (and it ignores the safety case against traffic lights).
25. More typos, e.g. “Drachten entirely removed its traffic lights, with one particular junction seeing a fall in accidents from 10 per year to just 1 per year after the chance was made. Or here:
27. “Then one day the lights failed for a few hours and these jams evaporated, which eventually led to a trail that saw the lights turned off” (In fact it was because I lobbied a Councillor who showed the Chamber my video, The case against traffic lights).
What a limp, unsatisfactory concluding remark (ignoring my argument about priority/inequality contriving the danger that traffic regs seek in vain to solve (they only see and only treat the symptoms):
“this report does appreciate that shared spaces will not be the answer in all situations, particularly on the busiest roads in the UK.”
“shared spaces” is not the right term. It’s “shared space”, coined by street designer, Ben Hamilton-Baillie. But the term is out-of-date because it is too often confused with shared (flat) surfaces which blind people understandably fear. Ben now uses the term low-speed environments. I coined the term Equality Streets.
31. “This BIG report therefore calls on all authorities across the UK responsible for highways and the traffic controls on them (!) to place a moratorium on all planned new traffic control measures.”
Tim, if you have time/if you’re interested, you might have a look at my IEA companion piece in which I was able to speculate more freely about the potential savings in traffic system reform.
NO REPLY from any of them (posted this on 27 September 2017)
1) In 2004, I had the backing of Brent Council for a lights-off trial at Staples Corner. David Brown, MD of TfL, vetoed it. (Correspondence archived.)
2) Inaction amounting to negligence in Reading (posted at Free to Move in 2010):
£750,000 spent re-modelling the Shinfield Rd junction in Reading, which included new signals, has made matters worse (story here). To a degree, solutions are location-specific, but in most cases, equality will solve the conflicts contrived by priority. Isn’t it time we changed the engineering model (priority, encouraging vehicle domination) to a social model (equality, allowing all road-users to interact sociably)? Following the debacle at Shinfield Rd, Head of Transport, Pat Baxter, said, “Doing nothing is not an option”. So she commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory to assess 17 proposals for re-thinking the junction. Where on the list was the equal-priority solution we had tabled two years earlier, which worked wonders at a similar staggered junction in Portishead? Nowhere.
3) From The Times, Feb 2008: “About a week ago, mains power failed at the western end of Fleet Street and on the Aldwych. All the traffic lights were out of action. At 9 in the morning, the Aldwych would usually be a scrunched up mass of motionless cars: not so – they moved fluidly and without stopping. All day long, there was barely a moment when the traffic was brought to a standstill. As a pedestrian, too, it was a dream: even the cabbies drove slower and paid attention. Next day, the power was back, and with it the traditional, fume-spurting traffic jams. I found all this rather surprising but it does go to show that the way drivers actually behave without any signals – at one of the busiest junctions in London, with a total of 11 lanes crossing, no less – is not necessarily what we’d expect.” David Rees, London, UK.
I emailed a contact at TfL for his comments. This came back from one of his officers: “My understanding of this event was that LTCC [London Traffic Control Centre] and particularly the Police on the ground effectively established a cordon around the affected area, limiting access in order to keep roads safe and traffic moving inside.” A supporting email came from a TFL press officer: “The traffic was reduced by actions taken by the police and our London Traffic Control Centre. It is this that allowed the remaining traffic to flow and avoid locking up the roads.” – I emailed a Chief Inspector contact at the Met, who replied: “I have had someone look at all the related messages as a power cut sets off alarms, causes ATS to fail, etc, and as such can generate a lot of associated messages. From the original message and linked incidents there is no record of any cordons being put in. I have also looked at my team’s de-briefing sheets and spoken to my congestion team supervisors who have no knowledge of any significant deployments to that area.” Is this another example of TfL’s improperganda? Hardly surprising they would varnish the truth, as it threatens their raison d’être.
4) Correspondence with TfL chief, Peter Hendy (one-sided as he never replied. Funny how years later he takes the credit for considering – though still not acting on – signal switch-off).
Sent: 05 May 2005 10:51
Subject: FW: Congestion Challenge
I’m developing a film about congestion: its causes, consequences and solutions. A core proposal is to replace mandatory traffic lights with discretionary (amber-flashing) lights. The rationale: with current regulation, vehicles are forced to wait at red – high polluting diesel buses included – whether a junction is busy or not, thereby reducing road capacity, causing needless delay, fuel waste, unnecessary air pollution, damage to our health and the economy. Accident risk is also heightened, because instead of watching other road-users, drivers watch the lights. When lights are out of action, motorists self-regulate like pedestrians. Congestion dissolves. Traffic disperses freely. As soon as the lights are working again, the jams are back. Practice in Holland shows that removal of lights solves congestion and reduces accidents by 30%. Pedestrians are safer on de-regulated roads because they are perceived as fellow road-users rather than obstacles in the way of the next time-consuming light. Would you be interested in collaborating on an experiment in de-regulation involving switching off the lights, or switching to amber-flashing lights across selected areas? I would also like to look at all-day bus lanes, which also reduce capacity and aggravate pollution with (as far as I can see) no compensating benefits. We would monitor the results for air quality, accidents, congestion, journey times, driver opinion. A publicity campaign would prepare the public – though experience shows that when adults are treated as adults and left to their own devices, the natural common law principle of mutual forbearance re-emerges and flourishes.
Regards, Martin Cassini
5) Correspondence with Camden Council, who for the SEVEN years that Midland Road was closed for work on the Tunnel link, failed to switch off or even adjust traffic light timings outside their own Town Hall on Euston Road.
From: Martin Cassini Sent: 29 March 2005 18:26
I’ve been reviewing emails about the issues I raised with Environment Chief, John Thane, back in March (repeated below). Your email below of 6 April is the only one I can trace or, indeed, ever received. I sent my email three times and then had to chase by telephone at least twice before getting only a verbal answer from you saying John Thane was not interested in discussing the matter (apart from your last resort email below in response to my demand under the Freedom of Information Act). So I don’t know what you mean by suggesting I did not receive a “written reply”. Perhaps you could forward a copy.
I have no beef with you. I reserve my contempt for your superiors. My original email to John Thane was written 6 months ago, yet the lights at Euston Road/Midland Road, right outside Camden Town Hall, still operate full-time, despite Midland Road being closed for work on the tunnel link. Euston Road carries 98% of the traffic but gets less than 50% green time. Invisible, overpaid regulators like Thane blame congestion on volume of traffic, yet it is obvious that volume is rarely a problem until flow is interrupted, as it is, continually, illogically, by mandatory traffic lights. How does he justify 24-hour lights at a junction which carries hardly, if any, cross traffic? We are faced with cataclysmic climate change, yet he presides over policy that generates rivers of polluting traffic held in suspended animation by the tyranny of traffic lights. If he took the trouble, he could do something to alleviate it.
The Metro/Evening Standard reported on 24 May 05: “air pollution levels in London are breaking EU laws. Amounts of fine particles at a monitoring site on Marylebone Road exceeded standards for the 36th day this year. Under EU law, levels should not exceed standards on more than 35 days. Friends of the Earth said the government could be prosecuted.”
Thane, Camden and TfL all have blood on their hands.
Email 11.3.05 to John Thane, Camden Environment Chief
Good to read about the Car Plus scheme. I am interested in subscribing and have asked for details. There is another reason for writing. I am developing a TV series about solutions to congestion, and wonder if you would be interested in collaborating in some way. Ideas such as Car Plus could certainly feature, but my central theme is that the main (unreported) cause of congestion is regulation itself, particularly in the form of mandatory traffic lights; and that many of our man-made congestion problems could be solved virtually overnight by replacing compulsion with discretion.
Observe a junction where the lights are out of action: no congestion. When left to their own devices, motorists filter and self-regulate without incident. As soon as the lights are working again, the jams are back. Once upon a time, the principle of “mutual forbearance” was at the heart of traffic policy. But with dire consequences for the economy, our health and the environment, it was replaced by regulation. Lights at roundabouts – designed for filtering – epitomise over-regulation.
Congestion is routinely blamed on volume of traffic, but volume is only a problem when flow is interrupted – as it is, continually, outside your very own building. (What is the sense of fully-operational, round-the-clock lights at Judd Street when Midland Road is closed?) You and I and babies in prams have to suffer the vastly increased pollution levels that result from over-regulation. Moreover, heavily-regulated roads are more dangerous: drivers watch the lights instead of other road-users. On de-regulated roads, drivers relax in the knowledge that they are not subject to endless arbitrary interruptions to their progress; they watch other road-users – safer for everyone. Road rage disappears, courtesy returns, mutual forbearance flourishes.
Another object lesson in traffic flow mismanagement (apart from Judd Street and most of the lights along Euston Rd) is King’s Cross Bridge. When vehicles finally make it to the end of Caledonian Road, most of them are unable to get across Pentonville Road because of the superfluous lights at Gray’s Inn Road. There shouldn’t be any lights from King’s Cross Bridge into one-way Gray’s Inn Road – all that is needed is a Give Way or Filter sign. Ironically, the very cities that advocate use of public transport also make their high-polluting diesel buses wait at red. Indeed, buses trying to turn into King’s Cross Bridge from Pentonville Road cause congestion problems because they get stopped by those same ludicrous lights at KX Bridge/Gray’s Inn Rd.
And, of course, all the extra congestion caused by over-regulation produces astronomical volumes of extra greenhouse gas emissions.
Would you work with me on a monitored experiment? The idea would be to film selected streets and junctions with the lights on and the lights off, each for a period of a few days and nights. We would monitor and compare traffic flow, journey times, accidents, air quality and driver opinion. Just as we shudder at the memory of multiple queues in post offices, we would wonder how we ever put up with mandatory lights, and how, in view of their diabolical inefficiency, anyone could dream of imposing them.
From: Western, Courtney [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 06 April 2005 16:54
To: ‘Martin Cassini’
Cc: Saul, Clare
Subject: RE: reminder
Thank you for your email. I gather from this that you did not receive my reply on the 24 March. As discussed on this occasion we will decline your offer to be involved in this production. As I mentioned in our conversations, if you have any specific questions about traffic management and what we do in the borough I can address these in a statement from Camden Council. Please let me know if you have any specific questions which you would like me to respond to. I understand that you have recently filed a Freedom of Information request for research and information on our traffic management policies and that within this you mention that I have not responded to you, I was surprised to hear this because we have had a number of telephone conversations about this issue, however I apologise if you did not receive my written reply. If you do have any further concerns about this issue please contact my manager Clare Saul who is copied in to this email.
From: Martin Cassini Sent: 24 March 2005 06:58
Subject: as discussed
Further to our telephone conversation on the 22nd, and as agreed, please confirm by email the reasons John Thane [Camden’s Head of Environment] declined my invitation to discuss ways to reduce carbon emissions.
Regards, Martin Cassini
6) On 8 April 2009, head of transportation at Westminster City Council, Martin Low, saw my video, “The case for a no-lights trial”. Fired with enthusiasm, he agreed to seven trial junctions. He said he’d commission my traffic engineering associate to set up the trials, and me to document them on film as part of a public awareness campaign. He asked me not to talk to the Press. So I turned down an interview with The Times and the chance of a paid article. Then he “forgot” his promise, partly, it seems, because TfL got involved. (In a 2006 article for the IEA, I had accused TfL of negligence and hypocrisy over their traffic mismanagement.) Later in 2009, the Sunday Times interviewed me about the proposed Westminster trials (the 7 junctions agreed with Low had been cut by TfL to two minor ones). But The Times cancelled the story because it was leaked to The Telegraph. The Telegraph article was a glorified TfL press release claiming credit for the idea with Westminster CC and Boris/the GLA. Ironic, because Boris/the GLA had turned down our proposal for lights-off trials a year earlier. In their “innovative” proposal to cull 145 sets of lights across London, the tricky triumvirate soon encountered problems, because they failed to appreciate or explain the bigger picture to vulnerable road-user groups. Under Livingstone, London gained 1800 new sets of traffic lights, even at tiny junctions such as Eastcastle St/Berwick St, conjuring congestion where there was none before, and bringing the total nuber of signal-controlled junctions in London to nearly 6000. Given Equality Streets, it’s conceivable that those figures could be reversed, so that only 145 sets of lights were left in operation.
7) The Highways Agency, TfL, DfT, 150 local traffic authorities, and generations of transport ministers support a system which puts the onus on children to beware motorists when it could and should be the other way round. They fail to replace the lethal priority system with a live-and-let-live approach based on equality. They squander tens of billions of taxpayers’ money on a fiendishly expensive, anti-social system that is a vain attempt to solve problems of their own making, which has had a hand in killing more people in peacetime than died in two world wars.
8) Three times in the last 14 years, twice with the BBC and once with C4, my proposed TV series about traffic system reform – under various titles such as The Jam Busters, or One Flew over the Traffic Light – has been within a gnat’s crotchet of a commission. In 2005, in association with Roy Ackerman (then of Diverse), it was amber lit, but head of current affairs, Peter Horrocks (later Head of World Service ), kyboshed it, because he didn’t think “switching off traffic lights would work.” Two years later, after a re-pitch in which I cited the shared space transformation of Bohmte in Germany, I discovered that Horrocks hadn’t read our 2005 treatment, at least not properly, because he expressed surprise at shared space, which of course was covered in the original treatment. In the same way that traffic authorities are failing in their duty of care to our time, health, quality of life and the planet, is the BBC failing in its duty to air new ideas?
9) 12 March 2009: the date of an Evening Standard article criticising traffic lights, in which Andrew Gilligan manages to quote me without crediting me. I emailed next day to say it was good that he had read and viewed my stuff. He got straight back promising to commission an article from me (he went on to edit The Telegraph). I’m still waiting.
10) 6 May 2009: the date of a Guardian article in which Harry Phibbs quoted me with only a peripheral credit towards the end (he even opens his piece with a line from one of my videos). I got in touch. He is connected to Hammersmith & Chelsea council and promised a reply to my proposal for lights-off trials in the borough. Still waiting.