System evils

Yesterday, I crossed from Piccadilly to Leicester Sq. I had a good gap, but disobeyed the pedestrian light. It prompted a van driver not only to honk angrily but to swerve towards me, presumably venting his frustration at a hundred red lights he had just endured, and at a pedestrian transgressing a sacred rule of the road. It’s hardly credible that a system which promotes such fury and intolerance is promoted by the law of the land.

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So obvious

It’s extraordinary that an inherently lethal system is backed by public funds and the law of the land. Over 20,000 humans are killed and seriously hurt on our roads every year, with tens of billions supporting a system that makes roads dangerous in the first place. The obvious solution is low-tech and low-cost. Put the onus on the driver to beware walkers and cyclists. Make them automatically liable for any collision. Then electric cars wouldn’t need sound effects, and we wouldn’t need the barrage of vexatious regulation that costs the earth and fails to keep us safe. At last the Highway Code was catching up with its hierarchy of road-users – the vulnerable at the top and the mighty at the bottom. But it has hardly been publicised, let alone enforced. Why?

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Rage against the lights

Who will rid us of the meddlesome geeks who impose dysfunctional, high-cost regulation which fails to keep us safe and ruins air quality, quality of life and space for all road-users?

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One-eyed man in the country of the blind

Difficult, even eye-watering choices, Jeremy Hunt?
No, there is low-hanging fruit that experts, politicians and media folk routinely overlook, a field of public spending that consumes tens of billions to universal detriment. This public disservice somehow slips below the radar of public scrutiny. Even the National Audit Office has never investigated it.
Along with Today, PM et al, Newsnight’s economic editor, Ben Chu, only considered education, defence, the NHS and pensions as possible areas for cuts. Am I the only one to see the traffic control dictatorship as overripe for beneficial cuts!?
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Cuts – the usual suspects

Radio 4’s PM wheels on various guests about possible spending cuts. Yesterday it was Mel Stride MP and Paul Johnson of the IFS. Today it was Paul Scully, Minister for local govt. “Where there is any fat,” asks Evan Davis, “Police, health, schools, prisons, defence …?” Traffic control never figures. Yet it hoovers up tens of billions annually, fails to keep us safe, and acts to our detriment. Time and again it avoids the spotlight. TfL managers must be laughing all the way to their pension pots.

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Re-directing £6m?

Following email correspondence in which I proposed pedestrian priority for Minehead, I had a meeting on 7 September 2022 with LibDem county councillor for transport, Mike Rigby. He played devil’s advocate, but I discussed objections, and followed up with further info, e.g. no liability for Councils if they switch off traffic lights. He said I’d made contact at an opportune time, because he has a budget of £6m to renew Somerset’s traffic lights – which would be a classic case of pouring good money after bad. Its county town, Taunton, would win turkey awards for its barrage of 24hr traffic lights causing congestion, needless delay and added air pollution. It’s weeks since our meeting and I haven’t heard back from him yet. We could be taking action now – come on, Mike!

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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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