Press priorities

The news that the Brazilian rainforest now emits 20% more CO2 than it absorbs brings perspective to the fuss over plastic bags. A positive drop in the ocean of planetary destruction may be better than nothing, but it’s bizarre that the idea of cutting exhaust emissions and brake dust in half by letting cars filter gently at low speeds and low revs (and brings a host of other benefits, above all true road safety), gets no coverage at all, despite innumerable pitches to TV, radio and the Press.

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Post Office bad; traffic system diabolical

The scandal of the Post Office’s Horizon system has been called the biggest miscarriage of justice in our peacetime history. It’s bad, but nothing like as bad as the traffic control and enforcement system which has been causing untold injustice and harm for generations.

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Commissioning scandal?

A TV documentary exposes pervasive racism and “apartheid in death” which meant that 115,000+ non-white troops who laid down their lives in WW1 were dumped in unmarked graves. It makes headline news and prompts The War Graves Commission to apologise for not commemorating them in the same way as white troops. 

The world recognises genocide against Jews, Native Americans, Armenians, Rohingya. Yet a vast army of innocents who die and continue to die in peacetime on the altar of malign, misguided traffic policy go unremarked. It’s now 21 years since I started pitching for a TV commission to expose the scandal. The failure of broadcast commissioners to back the project seems to me a scandal in itself.
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Demands for a public inquiry

Michael Rosen is demanding a public enquiry into the government’s handling of Covid-19. “We desperately need an inquiry into how and why this lethal idea [alleged experimenting with herd immunity without vaccination] was taken seriously. We owe it to the dead and injured and we must learn from such a terrible mistake.”

His words apply equally to this campaign. An inquiry is desperately overdue as to why dysfunctional public policy, pursued over the decades by transport ministers and traffic managers, is still being allowed to cause untold injustice and harm.

 

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UK law-breaking on pollution

Transport Network reports that the UK has “systematically and persistently” broken legal limits on dangerous air pollution since 2010. So finds the European Court of Justice. Of course the UK government has been guilty of this for several decades. They have got away with it because most exhaust fumes are invisible.

Katie Nield of ClientEarth said: “The Government has been dragging its feet for too long on air pollution, downplaying the problem and passing the buck. Clean Air Zones are the solution, alongside support for the move to cleaner forms of transport. While authorities delay getting the most polluting vehicles out of our towns, lives are being ruined by toxic air.”

The quickest win? Replace priority with equality. This would avoid the “need” for most traffic lights, which multiply emissions at least fourfold by making vehicles continually stop and restart, often needlessly.

 

 

 

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Dwindling justification for HS2

An internal survey found that 12,000 of 18,000 Nationwide employees prefer working from home, and home-working is at least as efficient as office working. It also improves quality of life. The main justification for HS2’s scorched earth policy was the “need” for greater north-south rail capacity. Where is that justification now? Yet the state continues to back HS2 instead of making roads safe and efficient, and instead of creating a hydrogen infrastructure for clean road transport, and the next big thing, flying cars.

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Anonymous executioners

Deaths on “smart” motorways – where the hard shoulder is opened for use at 70mph – reached their highest level in 2019. Article here.

The destruction is completely avoidable. One obvious solution is to open the lanes on straight stretches only, and to close them on bends. Another is to allow their use at low speeds only, and ban their use in fog or rain.

The DfT said: ‘Since taking office, the transport secretary has committed £500m to smart motorway safety improvements …” – So the anonymous cretins at the DfT get away with manslaughter, then receive vast funding to repair the mistakes they should have avoided in the first place.

‘The safety and peace of mind of drivers and passengers using these routes remains our priority,’ states the DfT.

Their actions swear louder than their mealy-mouthed words.

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Manslaughter charges at last?

In an earlier post I wrote that pigs would fly before Highways England faced manslaughter charges for opening hard shoulders to motorway traffic without proper precautions.

It’s promising that South Yorkshire coroner, Nicola Mundy, is referring the case of Nargis Begum to the CPS.

Highways England, of course, denies responsibility. High time that the perpetrators of a lethal system were brought to book! Another post on the subject here.

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Them and Us

A pensioner in Christchurch, Dorset, painted a zebra crossing so he and his disabled wife could cross a busy road. The council fined him for criminal damage. I kid you not.

In the absence of a bridge or flyover, road-users should be free of misguided regulation, free to act sociably, and free take to take it more or less in turns. In built-up areas especially, drivers should give way to anyone on foot wanting to cross the road.

Because the anonymous morons who run our anti-social traffic system fail us so dismally, this gentleman showed how it could be done. With his neat brushstrokes, he brought about a transformation in quality of life and space while harming no-one.

Tom Moore shuffled round his garden and, by a fluke of the internet, raised millions for charity. He was rewarded with love and a knighthood. Laurie Phillips took creative action in a bid to right decades of wrong. He gets a £130 fine. Laurie, I salute you!

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Admission

Use of motorway hard shoulders without safeguards was “entirely wrong”, admitted Grant Shapps. Article here. Are corporate manslaughter charges being brought? When pigs fly. Thirty-eight (38) avoidable deaths later and untold trauma to survivors, the anonymous perpetrators of the current traffic system – the entire miserable system – will get away with crocodile tears and an apology.

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