About six years ago I was called in by a group of citizens in Hereford, led by farmer, John Harrington, to advise them about their city’s chronic congestion. It was immediately apparent that traffic control was the main problem, as it is everywhere else on our over-regulated roads. John set up a meeting with Jesse Norman, MP. Like John, he quickly cottoned on to the idea of Equality Streets. A few years later, when Jesse became Roads Minister, he palmed my stuff off to the DfT. They, of course, are programmed to resist change, so nothing happened.
To my delight, at the recent local elections, John’s group was elected, and John himself is now Councillor for Roads and Infrastructure. And he’s up for something I’ve been pitching for for years: a citywide experiment in signal switch-off. At last!
This morning I was on BBC Hereford and Worcester radio. One of the things I was trying to say was that drivers should give way to pedestrians, especially if the pedestrian is there first. Most people, including AA President, Edmund King, who appeared after me on the programme, think primarily in terms of cars. He talked about improvements at Hyde Park Corner since traffic lights went in. But traffic lights do not ensure safety – far from it! A 66-year old pedestrian was killed only last night crossing the road! Story here. Other people on foot have been killed there, notably a woman mown down by a bus. Under the current system, drivers watch the lights instead of the road and each other – a recipe for disaster!
The idea that traffic lights ensure, or even promote safety is an odious myth.