Part of the case for 20mph is that if you’re on foot and hit, you’re less likely to be killed. So it’s OK if you survive with a broken body, is it?

Is it beyond the wit of government to remove the source of danger (priority aka unequal rights-of-way) by changing the rules of the road and making drivers liable in event of an “accident”?

Also it wouldn’t be a bad idea to scrap seat belts, thereby making drivers feel less safe and take greater care.

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Dysfunctional rules of the road

On Desert Island Discs (24.3.24), we heard that Professor Alice Roberts was hit by car in her home town of Bristol. She wondered if her “accident” had any bearing on the decision to pedestrianise the street. To me it’s a wonder that the rules of the road – putting the onus for road safety on the vulnerable – go unquestioned.

Pedestrianisation is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. To make roads safe, all we need do is to change the rules of road to make the driver responsible for road safety, and automatically liable in the event of an “accident” with a vulnerable road-user.

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Idiot Minds

In this Mail article (thanks to FFDF for posting), a “spokesperson” for Sadiq Khan claims the major cause of urban congestion is roadworks. Not in my observation and experience. The chief cause of congestion (and to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, I’ve looked at this from all sides now) is those weapons of mass distraction, danger and delay: traffic lights.

As for 20mph limits, I couldn’t agree more with the aim: to slow traffic in urban settings where people on foot, especially children, are about; but couldn’t disagree more with the means to achieve it, viz. telling people to drive by numbers when they should be learning to drive by context. We should be free to use our own judgement within a legal framework that makes the mighty defer to the vulnerable, and makes the mighty automatically liable for any hurt or damage to the more vulnerable.

I’ve said this a thousand times, but it bears repetition: in rural settings, in the absence of a bridge or flyover, junctions should be all-way give-ways – not ruled by a priority system which puts minor road-users at a dangerous disadvantage, making them wait indefinitely or risk venturing into fast-moving priority traffic coming at them from opposite directions.

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“Accidents” and corporate manslaughter

One of my sayings is, “Most accidents are not accidents. They are events contrived by the rules and design of the road.” Recent fatal “accidents” in Wales involving teenage men prompt me to add “an inadequate driving test.” It’s absurd to put partially-trained drivers in charge of latent killing machines, and add them to the cauldron of defective regulation. Pre-requisites for a driving licence should be cycling proficiency, a rider’s licence, skidpan training, and hours of virtual reality to drum home the consequences of inappropriate speed. My charge of corporate manslaughter against traffic authorities and policymakers still stands.

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Darling proposal

Warm tributes for Alistair Darling today. I remember his daft proposal to add a fourth lane to the M25 to ease congestion. Imagine the cost/disruption! Far simpler to teach drivers to use the inside lane except when overtaking, thus freeing up at least a third of capacity.

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A Common Sense of Place

Following an enquiry from Watertown, Massachusetts, I re-viewed A Common Sense of Place, a short video we made eight (8!) years ago featuring the late great Ben Hamilton-Baillie. It’s worth a look. If I let myself think about it, it makes me angry that the powers – the transport and planning authorities – fail to adopt these supremely civilised ideas, and instead, pursue measures that oppress, depress, cost and fail us on so many levels.

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Google and Manchester lagging behind …

Thanks to Angela West for sending me this. As she said in her email, “why are people suddenly repeating what you’ve been saying for years?”

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Would Adam Smith have despised traffic control?

“Adam Smith excoriated the man of system who tries to control people and suppress human individuality and freedom”. That’s from a book by Jesse Norman serialised this week on Radio 4. So I reckon the answer to the question, Would Adam Smith have despised traffic control is YES!

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Corporate manslaughter?

Medics have called for hospital managers who ignored their warnings about Lucy Letby to face corporate manslaughter charges. Just as, in these pages, I have suggested that traffic managers and ministers should face such charges. Despite my analysis, reform proposals and lobbying, they continue to pursue a system that costs lives and costs the earth.

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ULEZ. Who should we believe?

The idea that Sadiq Khan would distort the findings of Imperial College about the effects of the Ultra Low Emission Zone, or that Imperial’s research could be “bought” smacks to me of conspiracy theory. What I do know is that hitting drivers with yet more punitive regulation is bad news. And letting drivers merge more or less in turn at low speeds and low revs on Equality Streets, giving way to other road-users who were there first, would improve air quality faster than all the high-cost regulation currently in force.

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