Cambridge has built a new roundabout embodying the change in hierarchy that usually happens when traffic lights are out of action. It seems to be the breakthrough I’ve been advocating for two decades. The desired shift in the balance of power in favour of the vulnerable road-user might have been achieved for less money, and nationwide, via re-education, de-regulation, roadway redesign and legal reform, but this looks to be the first decent thing Cambridge and the DfT have done since I saw the light about traffic lights in that city in 2000. My calls to abolish unequal priority have always been rejected by the DfT, but maybe they were listening all along. The fact that this story (as far as I know) didn’t make the mainstream press or the Today Programme shows the bizarrely low value placed on road safety and efficiency. Article here.
The government announces a 2bn spend on protected cycle lanes. It claims to be treating causes not symptoms, yet is leaving the the fatal flaw at the heart of the system – priority – untreated. Promoting one mode at the expense of the general good is misguided. This is another case of misdirected public funds.
On the subject of making it compulsory to wear a mask in enclosed public places, Michael Gove said it’s always best to trust people’s commonsense. Agreed. So why are we forbidden from using commonsense about when or what speed to go? We all lose when officialdom gets involved. Now mask-wearing is compulsory, and on the roads, the use of intelligent discretion continues to be unlawful.
“Why fund one special interest group at the expense of others? You could make roads safe for ALL users, and maintain freedom of choice, by replacing priority with equality as the central rule of the road, as explained at equalitystreets.com“. That was my reply to a tweet from transport minister, Grant Shapps, he who plagiarised and misrepresented our IEA report, Seeing Red, in his semi-literate government report, We’re Jammin’. His original tweet: “Brilliant to see cycling levels increase by around 70% compared to early March 🚴🚴♂️. And really keen to ensure healthy active transport sustained, so am providing councils with funds to install urgent infrastructure to keep cyclists safe – with more of this to come soon! 🚲” – Pah! More funds misdirected. The entire caboodle, from the dysfunctional rules of the road to street design and the driving test, needs reform, to ensure safety and efficiency for everyone.
In a violent end to last night’s anti-racist demo in Whitehall, a police officer was knocked off her horse and sustained a head injury from … a frigging traffic light! And those WMD – weapons of mass distraction, danger and delay – are still operating 24/7 even in the near-absence of traffic in lockdown.
The Public Accounts Committee has criticised senior DfT officials for failing to come clean about the spiralling cost of HS2. Apparently they have said sorry and will do better in the future. Well that’s that then.
TfL is getting a £1.9bn bail-out because revenue from fares and the congestion charge have collapsed. When I last looked, TfL’s budget was over £5bn a year, with 100 managers on salaries of over £100,000, with BUPA and generous pension provision among the perks. Much of TfL’s vast budget is spent on vexatious traffic control, and the con charge was introduced before the sociable Equality Streets approach was even tried.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is banning cars and vans from central London “to make roads safe and improve air quality”. Of course these could be achieved without the sedgehammer blow of an outright ban: by shifting the power balance in favour of the vulnerable, making drivers responsible for road safety, and allowing only clean-fuel cars, vans, buses and taxis from entering the zone.