The lockdown means less traffic and less polluted air. But 45,000 sets of traffic lights still operate, producing 57,000 tons of CO2 every year, just from the electricity that powers them. Rarely reported is that lights produce congestion by blocking flow and preventing traffic from dispersing naturally. Scrapping most lights and letting traffic filter sociably (including foot traffic), would bring a permanent transformation in congestion and air quality, as well as in road safety and the economy.
In his report from Antarctica on Radio 4’s From our Own Correspondent, Justin Rowlatt shed tears at the collapsing ice-sheet. Yet still he found a reason to hope. He concluded that humanity’s defining characteristic is not belligerence but cooperation. Precisely. Our instinct for cooperation is the wellspring of my critique of the traffic system and blueprint for reform. In 2012, Rowlatt co-presented a BBC series, The War on Britain’s Roads, in which such critical insight was absent. It’s good that he is showing signs of development. This was my critique of the 2012 series.
We’re safer in our cars than on public transport – another reason for scrapping HS2 and using the money to transform our road infrastructure along the lines advocated here.
Corona also shows, as if we didn’t already know, that a good proportion of the workforce could work from home and avoid stressful, polluting, pointless journeys to and from workplaces.
Moreover, why don’t they (whoever they are) delay school start times? As well as cutting congestion and pollution, it would give teens the rest they need to perform better and live longer, healthier lives.
Sadiq Khan thinks 20mph will banish accidents and serious injuries on London’s roads. Obviously no bad thing if it does. But would you want to be hit by a bus doing 20? Nor would I. These people see things in simplistic terms. Tony Blair once repeated the lazy phrase, “speed kills”. No, it’s speed in the wrong hands, or inappropriate speed that kills. Speed is like fire. Can be good, can be bad. Instead of learning to drive by numbers, we should learn to drive by context (more on this at the Speed tab). The 20mph campaign is well funded, so maybe that’s why it’s made such headway. Or is it because it delivers a simple message, whereas understanding what is meant by context requires some thought?
No doubt you heard about the Max Planck study which found that poor air quality is a greater threat to life than war, malaria, HIV or smoking.
Replacing conventional traffic control with freedom to filter at low speeds and low revs would cut pollution dramatically (by up to 29 times). Moreover, it would transform road safety, congestion, quality of life and the economy. It’s something that could be done more or less immediately, bringing instant benefits.
Interminable airtime is given over to child sexual abuse, but despite endless pitches to the Today Programme and other media outlets, state abuse involving over 20,000 avoidable deaths and life-changing injuries on our roads, annually, don’t get a look-in.
18 March 2018. The woman killed by a driverless car, Elaine Herzberg, 49, was crossing the road outside a designated crosswalk. The AI machine had only learned to detect pedestrians on crosswalks! So human error/stupidity and system error/stupidity killed her, as sure as eggs is eggs. I’ve always thought jaywalking was a fabricated crime, just as speeding is. The fools in charge of roads policy want us to drive by coloured signals, road markings and numbers when we should be driving by context.
When you know about a subject, you are usually dismayed by the media’s portrayal or politicians’ grasp of it. Boris’s self-satisfied vauntings about his transport infrastructure plans are no exception. “Tree-dappled” my foot! What a disappointing bunch they are, Johnson, Shapps, et al.
So the HS2 juggernaut set in motion by Adonis is going ahead. Johnson lacked the balls to pull the plug. Over £100 billion, which could be invested so much more constructively elsewhere, will be sunk into ripping up pristine countryside for a revamp of a 19th century mode of transport. Has anyone calculated the carbon footprint of this pitiful project?
More negligence in traffic policy emerged with the news that in the last five years, 38 avoidable deaths have occurred on the hard shoulder, or emergency lane, of “smart” motorways. An increase in capacity should not entail an increase in risk to life. Yet Highways England opened emergency lanes on bends. Why? And why didn’t they introduce lower speed limits? Who are the individuals responsible? Will they face corporate manslaughter charges?