Free to Choose

Free to Move

March 2010 Blog Posts (20)

Scrapping signals US-style

Utica NY is getting rid of some of its traffic lights. A month of lights flashing will be followed by a month with lights hooded over.…


Added by Martin Cassini on March 30, 2010 at 17:30 — 1 Comment

London cycling deaths

In London this evening there was a mass bike ride to mark the recent deaths of three cyclists: David Vilaseca, 46, Haris Ahmed, 21, and Shivon Watson, 28. The aim is "to raise awareness of the dangers that lorries pose to cyclists". Ms Watson's father, Maxwell, said, "I am very grateful to them for highlighting how bad the traffic is in London and how irresponsible drivers are." It might seem harsh to be critical when death and bereavement are involved, but it seems to me the point is being… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on March 26, 2010 at 22:47 — 3 Comments

Alien nation

Having already paid the odious con charge (odious in its operation and odious because it was imposed before deregulation was even tried), I drove to the City of London to check the new building on the skyline (the Heron Tower by Liverpool Street). I might regret the decision because of an unforced error, which I'll describe in a minute. The number of red light stops that are forced on you is farcical. One set of lights after another,…


Added by Martin Cassini on March 24, 2010 at 18:30 — 1 Comment

Old news?

Polluted air causes 50,000 premature deaths a year. Tim Yeo, Chairman of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, says the lives of asthma sufferers in particular can be shortened by nine years. (That's me, folks!) The health costs of pollution could be as high as £20.2bn, similar to the cost of alcohol abuse. "Much more needs to be done to save lives and reduce the burden of air pollution on the NHS." Yes, and as some of us been saying for years, FiT solutions could make an immediate… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on March 22, 2010 at 10:26 — No Comments

Instinctive altruism thwarted

More parallels in the New York Times/Observer. "New evidence supports the idea that altruism is hardwired into all but the most hardened sociopaths ... Babies reveal an innate inclination to help ... Frans de Waal, author of 'The Age of Empathy',…


Added by Martin Cassini on March 22, 2010 at 10:20 — No Comments

Nancy gets help

Karen Sherlock reports that a Puffin crossing is being installed in Chideock (see recent post "Highway Robbery"), which means that pensioner, Nancy Underwood, will be able to cross the road to her local shop without having to make four bus journeys. Progress of sorts. Any chance of Karen or David taking a couple of before-after photos?

Added by Martin Cassini on March 21, 2010 at 9:35 — 2 Comments

It's broken, so fix it!

Former adviser to Jimmy Carter, Bert Lance, says the trouble with government is it fixes things that don’t need fixing and doesn’t fix the things that do. What gets me about the legions of traffic officials is their inaction in the face of a dysfunctional system, and their neglect of simple, life-enhancing solutions. Sometimes I feel like Yosser. "Give us the job. I can do it!"

Added by Martin Cassini on March 21, 2010 at 9:22 — No Comments

War and Peace

In today's Guardian, Professor Fawaz Gerges writes that by withdrawing troops from Iraq, Obama will begin to repair the damage done by Bush, enabling a new relationship based on mutual interest, not domination. Similarly, on the roads, we need to abolish priority, vehicle dominance and coercive traffic control, so we can start coexisting in peace on Roads FiT for People. Gerges says Iraqis must take ownership of their country. Yes, and…


Added by Martin Cassini on March 20, 2010 at 16:30 — No Comments

Overpaid and over here

The more I observe traffic controls, the more I think they exist to occupy and solve problems created by traffic engineers. They certainly don’t add to the sum of human happiness. We have within us the ability to negotiate safe, efficient movement, but traffic systems prevent us from using it. Cycling home last night, I saw congestion tailing back from Lambeth North to the roundabout at Westminster Bridge. After overtaking the jam, I saw the…


Added by Martin Cassini on March 19, 2010 at 10:00 — 2 Comments

Puffin to the rescue

Martin, you blogged on the 89 year old Nancy Underwood, who could not cross the road in Chideock, West Dorset.

The Highways Agency have announced that they are going to install a Puffin Crossing to remedy her situation!

Chidoeck is a small village bisected by the A35, to make matters worse it is at the bottom of a valley so the approaches are steep hence a 30 mph GATSO speed camera on the entrance and exit of the village.

The full story is on the Bridport News Website… Continue

Added by David Neylan on March 17, 2010 at 18:23 — 2 Comments

Cycling in Japan

I visited Japan last year and was extremely impressed with their transport policy. One of the main things that strikes you is that everyone cycles. There are reasons it happens there and some of these could be used to encourage more cycling here.

Cyclist are treated like kings. You can cycle anywhere and mostly this is on pavements, even the narrow sort that we have in England. You are even allowed to cycle inside shopping arcades so none of this second-class road user experience…


Added by Luke Briner on March 17, 2010 at 10:42 — 1 Comment

Traffic Lights = Pain

Since moving to Cheltenham and enduring the Ring Road, I have been thinking that traffic control is about control for its own sake. The lights don't work effectively either in busy conditions OR in the dead of night. I wonder why we are less open to making things better, than, for example, the Japanese. Why do we accept sitting at a red light at an empty junction, and why do councils justify the situation rather than do something about it? Lights-off trials could give quick and easy results. I… Continue

Added by Luke Briner on March 17, 2010 at 10:31 — 1 Comment

Sociability = efficiency

Two minor events that made a minor difference. Driving through Camden today, I slowed to let pedestrians cross, also allowing a van to exit from a side road, at no cost or inconvenience to me or the vehicles behind, proving once again that the sociable way is also the efficient way. In Kilburn, I slowed to let an elderly woman cross. She gave me a big smile of surprised thanks. It seems so natural to stop and so perverse not to. But that’s what the rules of the road tell us to do: ignore the… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on March 16, 2010 at 20:30 — No Comments

Highway robbery

89-year-old partially-sighted Chideock resident, Nancy Underwood, has to make four bus journeys to cross the road from her house to the post office. First she has to get the bus to Bridport, 3 miles east, where she uses a zebra to cross, and wait for the bus back. Her way back across the A35 means a bus ride to Charmouth four miles west, where she can cross, then a fourth bus back to Chideock. Her daughter, Kathy Scott, says she can wait 20 minutes for a gap in the traffic. The heavily-funded… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on March 13, 2010 at 12:57 — No Comments

Traffic lights v inner lights

The current system disables us. It prohibits individual decisions based on context. It puts us in fear of putting a wheel wrong. We face mortal danger and needless delay from artificial rights-of-way. Given freedom to choose and to move, we could act according to our inner lights. We could interact sociably in a public…


Added by Martin Cassini on March 12, 2010 at 21:44 — No Comments

Them and Us

The "Kitchener" poster (see Photos) is prompted by a £225 tow-away charge I got this week for "failing" to display my valid resident's parking permit, and a £120 out-of-rush-hour bus lane penalty. Also there is this about Westminster's relationship with a parking enforcement company. What happened to Peace and Love?

Added by Martin Cassini on March 6, 2010 at 12:30 — No Comments

Yorkie or googly?

Unlike the next blog entry, this story, also in the Metro, plumbs the depths of state-sponsored scammery. After the River Ouse receded in York, three flooded cars were given penalty tickets when wardens saw they were parked on double yellow lines.

Added by Martin Cassini on March 3, 2010 at 9:30 — No Comments

A fine fine?

In today’s Metro: North Lincs Council is slapping £20 fines on motorists who leave their engines running while parked up. The ABD (Association of British Drivers) says “it’s a ridiculous money-making scam”. I disagree. I think it’s high time, but I’d introduce incentives. The usual culprits are bus and truck drivers who don’t pay for the fuel they so wantonly burn. I’d give bonuses or prizes for returning low fuel consumption figures. It would also encourage smoother driving, reducing… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on March 3, 2010 at 9:27 — 1 Comment

No freedom to think

Government road safety adviser, Robert Gifford, is trying to get drivers to behave better through a Think! campaign. Guess what. He doesn't propose extending our freedom to think! The role of control in corroding sociability on our roads has never been studied. Who will give me a grant to study it?

Added by Martin Cassini on March 2, 2010 at 10:00 — No Comments

Blame the drivers!

"There’s no such thing as a dangerous road," says Robert Smith, road safety manager of Dorset CC, "only bad and dangerous road behaviour". That's the depth of ignorance we’re dealing with. We are not born bad. A nurturing environment brings out the best in us. On the roads, given freedom to choose, and given road design that expresses a sociable rather than a hostile context, we co-operate in the interest of the common good. Meanwhile, Smith continues his vendetta against straitjacketed drivers.

Added by Martin Cassini on March 2, 2010 at 10:00 — No Comments

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