Who will rid us of these meddlesome freaks?

Forcing people to use their cars less through measures such as round-the-clock 20mph limits is oppressive. Dictators use oppression. We are supposed to live in a democracy. With the proliferation of traffic lights and “safety” cameras, there is already excessive intervention from officials who abuse our ability to think for ourselves. On the other hand, changing the basic rule of the road from priority to equality – so drivers give way to others who arrive first, on foot or on wheels, in urban as well as rural settings – harnesses instead of hampers our social nature. Moreover, it would make roads intrinsically safe instead of intrinsically dangerous, cut journey times for everyone, save colossal public expenditure on oppressive regulation, and enhance air quality as well as quality of life and space.

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Targeting blame

A woman was killed, three people were hurt, and the Piccadilly Line was closed after a Range Rover crashed in Park Royal. Labour councillor for Balham, Jo Rigby, wrote, “A child will grow up without a mother because a man child was showing off how fast he could drive his big new car.”

Should the ultimate blame lie with a deficient driving test? It unleashes on to our roads men-children inadequately schooled in the dangers of inappropriate speed in charge of machines with the power to kill.

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Mediocrity blocking reform

The level of debate about roads on BBC Today and PM is pitiful. On self-driving cars and 20mph recently, “experts” cited accident figures and blamed driver error. They never see that our problems stem from the mistaken rules and a correspondingly misguided driving test.

The rules pit us against each other. The driving test teaches intolerance. Policy is peopled by morons. Experts see only symptoms.

In negating our better nature, the system is the underlying cause. Conventional thinking, to which the BBC gives exclusive airtime, perpetuates the myths that block reform.

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They cannot be serious!

License cyclists and make them subject to the same rules as motorists? The government is supposed to be levelling up, isn’t it, not down? The ruinous rules of the road need reform, not expansion. Road-users need education, not enforcement.

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Apathy from on high

On the Today Programme, oncologist Prof Pat Price rightly criticised the backlog of cancer patients waiting for tests or treatent, and called for radical action. Meanwhile, I scream in the dark about the dysfunctional rules of the road which continue to cause death, injury, environmental and economic damage on a prodigious scale. None of the people in power appears to have a clue. I’m afraid that everyone, including BBC editors who fail to air my critique and reform agenda, is complicit in the avoidable damage.

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Abuse abuse abuse

Abuse is a buzzword these days. How does the state get away with such abuse of our rights in the fields of parking, “speeding”, and coercive control generally on the roads? It’s all an abuse of our time, our intelligence, our quality of life, and the planet. A pox on them all, especially MPs for ratifying the most moronic, vicious, abusive set of rules and regs that anonymous officials could possibly dream up.

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The air we breathe and state ignorance

As if we didn’t already know, the government-funded Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants has reported a definite link between exhaust emissions and the rise in dementia. 
No doubt there will be calls to ban cars, and higher taxation for the worst gas-guzzlers. But the worst gas-guzzling is caused by traffic control. 
Traffic lights prevent infinite low-speed, low-rev filtering opportunities. When lights fail, and we are free to use commonsense to merge more or less in turn, congestion disappears. I’ve witnessed it across central London, e.g. in November 2007 and February 2008. Never was it more pleasant to cycle along Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly. Cab drivers smiled and waved you on. People rediscovered their humanity and made common cause. Above all, there was an absence of traffic. Free to disperse of its own accord, it vanished into thin air.
I emailed Dave Wetzel, then vice-chair of TfL. He checked with his officers. They said they had erected cordons to prevent traffic from entering the affected areas. I contacted a Chief Inspector contact at the Met. He investigated and replied that no such action had been taken. So TfL officers were lying. This has never been exposed before, except on  the Improperganda page of this website.
As I wrote in No Idle Matter in 2007 (reprinted 2011), the stop-restart drive cycle produced by traffic control multiplies emissions by a factor of four. Since then, I found a University engineering professor who says the factor is as much as 29.
So the quick win is to switch off most traffic lights and let us filter. The immediate reduction in emissions will be at least 50%.
I just pitched this to an editor at a national newspaper. Will I get a response, even a commission to write about it in full?
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Kangaroo justice

Nottingham Police and crime commissioner, Caroline Henry, has received a 6-month ban and a £2450 fine after breaking the limit five times in 12 weeks.

Serves her right, you might think. After all, she had pledged to crack down on speeding.

Did she hit or hurt anyone? No. Did she cause danger or damage? No. She was driving sensibly for the conditions. All she did was breach arbitrary, artificial limits that have no relevance whatsoever to context and circumstance.

The law in this field, and traffic regulation in general, prohibits the exercise of intelligent discretion. Coercive control is illegal in the domestic sphere but rampant in the public.


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(Rigid) rules for fools

Should Notts Crime Commissioner, Caroline Henry, resign over her 5 “speeding” offences? No. The anonymous fools who make us drive by numbers instead of context should.

And the puerile numbers rule should be changed. A US study found that drivers who drive faster than average have the fewest accidents, yet they are the primary targets of speed enforcement.

Brake! would say that driving by context is a licence to drive without due care and attention. Wrong. It’s a bluerint for driving with true care and attention.

In March and May 2021, Henry was twice clocked doing 35 in a 30mph limit, twice doing 38, and once doing 40. How many times was she driving well below the limit? No record, of course.

Full story here.

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Censored again?

Last week I pitched the following to PM and Today. As usual, no response. Am I being censored, do they not read emails, or do they only respond to non-controversial material?

If as road-users, on foot or on wheels, we give way to others who are there first, i.e. if we take it in turns as in other walks of life, then, not only do we make common cause and enjoy the sociable interaction, we would be able to dispose of those weapons of mass distraction, danger and delay – traffic lights.

Do you have any idea how much that would save the public purse? Tens of billions. Annually (see this, even just the summary at the end).

Moreover, air quality would see a transformation. By making us stop when we could go, and making us continually stop and restart, traffic control extends journey times and maximises emissions.

By contrast, letting us filter at low speeds and low revs cuts exhaust emissions and equally toxic brake dust by over half, as I wrote in 2007.

So instead of squandering public fortunes on congestion charging, with its intrusion into our freedoms and our pockets, let us build on the Highway Code’s overdue change in priority in favour of the vulnerable, and wise up to the benefits that equality among all road-users can bring.

That the Code’s new hierarchy of road-users has received inadequate publicity was demonstrated when I was crossing the road yesterday and was honked at by a bus driver. I blame his ignorance less than the traffic control system which, perhaps most egregiously, has put the onus on the child to beware the driver, when it should be the other way round.

Today we heard that the Transport Select Committee wants to plug the looming £35bn tax hole from loss of vehicle tax through road charging. Still the high-cost, counterproductive ship of traffic control sails on, bizarrely ringfenced and unquestioned.


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