In a violent end to last night’s anti-racist demo in Whitehall, a police officer was knocked off her horse and sustained a head injury from … a frigging traffic light! And those WMD – weapons of mass distraction, danger and delay – are still operating 24/7 even in the near-absence of traffic in lockdown.
The Public Accounts Committee has criticised senior DfT officials for failing to come clean about the spiralling cost of HS2. Apparently they have said sorry and will do better in the future. Well that’s that then.
TfL is getting a £1.9bn bail-out because revenue from fares and the congestion charge have collapsed. When I last looked, TfL’s budget was over £5bn a year, with 100 managers on salaries of over £100,000, with BUPA and generous pension provision among the perks. Much of TfL’s vast budget is spent on vexatious traffic control, and the con charge was introduced before the sociable Equality Streets approach was even tried.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is banning cars and vans from central London “to make roads safe and improve air quality”. Of course these could be achieved without the sedgehammer blow of an outright ban: by shifting the power balance in favour of the vulnerable, making drivers responsible for road safety, and allowing only clean-fuel cars, vans, buses and taxis from entering the zone.
In Humankind: A Hopeful History, Rutger Bregman says we are brainwashed into believing that we are a no-good, selfish species. We are “built” to trust each other, but society creates systems that bring out the evil in us. It could be a summary of my take on traffic control v the people, and endorses what I write about in these pages!
“The trouble with the law is it excludes commonsense,” said historian and former Supreme Court Judge, Lord Sumption, on PM today. “We are quite capable of getting through this by using our survival instincts and exercising commonsense, without the interference of the nanny state” (or words to that effect). His remarks referred to Covid-19, but apply equally to traffic and the law, echoing many of my own remarks on the subject.
There are calls to allocate more road space to cycling and walking. That’s fine, as long as it goes hand in hand with deregulation. Otherwise, the cycle of coercive control will continue to maximise emissions, cause needless delay and road rage. No traffic lights and no artificial priority will bring lower speeds and the elimination of accidents where control plays a disruptive role. Given equality, walkers, wheelchair users, children, blind people, cyclists, riders and drivers will be able to coexist in peace.
“You take a risk every time you cross the road,” said Nick Robinson on the Today Prog this morning. It shows how ingrained is unquestioning acceptance of the unacceptable. There should be no risk in crossing the road. It would be so easy to make roads safe. Abolish the rule of priority. Replace it with equality. Make drivers morally and legally responsible for safety. Stop requiring children to learn age-inappropriate road safety drill! Ffs!
The car is a self-isolating transportation device par excellence. Instead of pouring billions into 19C technology – trains – shouldn’t the state be investing in 21C tech, redesigning the public realm to express equality, eliminating bottlenecks, and creating infrastructure for hydrogen-powered vehicles?