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March 2011 Blog Posts (30)

No traffic controls = civilised streets

Below is a link to some early 20th-century footage shot from a tram progressing along a US city street teeming with people on foot, horse-drawn carts, motor vehicles, trams – all human life is here, in all its beautiful, harmonious chaos. Not a yellow line, parking meter, speed limit, speed camera or traffic light in sight, yet everyone merges in a merry mix (illustrating beautifully what Equality…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 31, 2011 at 15:00 — No Comments

Today and Ed - joint shame?

The Today Programme’s big interview this morning was Ed Miliband. So now we know what Labour would do about the deficit. Or do we? All I gleaned was that Ed would spread cuts over four years, "and go out and ask the people what they think". Brilliant! Evan Davis hopped about like a goblin (do Today presenters get bonuses for interruptions?), accusing Ed of a willingness to fall behind on deficit…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 31, 2011 at 12:30 — No Comments

Verdict in bus driver case

Blackfriars Crown Court is near me, so hoping for a word with the defence, I cycled over, thinking the bus driver was as much a victim as the poor dead cyclist. The catastrophic event will haunt the driver all her life. But the case was over. Verdict: Not Guilty. So why did the CPS bring the case? Chambers gave me the solicitor’s number, but the person I needed was not at her desk.…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 30, 2011 at 17:00 — No Comments

Another cyclist killed at traffic lights

22-year-old student, Dorothy Elder, met a terrible end on 11 November 2009 at the junction of Southampton Row and Holborn. Bus driver, Leola Burte, is facing a charge of dangerous driving. The bus was stationary at red when Dorothy cycled up the inside. As the lights changed and they moved off, Dorothy was dragged under the bus. Speed wasn’t a factor. The prosecution alleges the driver…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 30, 2011 at 15:00 — No Comments

Applying Schumacher to traffic

Pertinent to the application of human principles to the rules of the road is this from E.F.Schumacher: "Technology must be the servant of man, not its master."

Added by Martin Cassini on March 27, 2011 at 22:00 — No Comments

Instructions overriding information

Have you ever followed road directions only to arrive at a junction or roundabout and be left guessing? After taking a wrong exit, you might spot a miniature sign in the middle-distance at the exit you wanted. Traffic authorities spend fortunes on instructional signage – but where are the directional signs when we need them!? Heathrow Terminal 4 is a case in point. At the last…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 27, 2011 at 21:30 — No Comments

Amber-flashing lights are all right but FiT is better

Portsmouth wants the DfT to approve amber-flashing lights at night. As a student 40 years ago in Munich, I admired amber-flashing lights at side roads outside peak times, but really, who needs signals to tell us to exercise caution when we are genetically programmed to be careful unless licensed by a green light to be careless?…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 25, 2011 at 10:30 — No Comments

TfL – Tea-leaves for London?

For decades, London Transport had a decent landline number for travel information: 0207 222 1234. Now TfL has imposed an indecent 0843 number which is excluded from "inclusive" phone packages. It charges 40p per minute, taking a cut of every minute you’re on the line. It maximises revenue by using a maze of options, saving the one you want until last. Then you are held in a queue and…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 22, 2011 at 12:30 — No Comments

The train’s a pain

Passengers – sorry, customers – are avoiding every other South West train to and from Portsmouth because the seats are too narrow. People who do squeeze in suffer ‘physical damage and have to consult osteopaths,’ according to Penny Mordaunt, MP. But ah, says an SWT spokesman, ‘our class-450 carriages are modern, reliable, air-conditioned, and comply with strict legislation’. So that’s…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 22, 2011 at 12:30 — No Comments

Bullying tactics

If transport minister, Philip Hammond, isn’t a philistine, he gives a convincing impression. His claim that objectors to high-speed rail are self-interested nimbys is false. I don't live in the threatened area, so I'm no nimby. Apart from the likelihood that the £33bn projected cost would balloon to at least twice that sum, the trade-off, whichever way you cut it, is negative. HS2…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 21, 2011 at 12:00 — No Comments

Public disservice

Polly Toynbee (Guardian 19 March) is right about the hidden value of much public service, but wrong in seeing traffic control as anything but a public disservice. In providing beneficial spending cuts, traffic system reform would avoid the destructive cuts she fears will unravel the admirable public services that have invisibly mended many of society’s ills.

Added by Martin Cassini on March 21, 2011 at 11:00 — No Comments

Symptoms and causes

Pondering human agency in war and disaster, Neal Ascherson (Observer 20 March), quotes a freelance engineer he met in Uganda whose (unspecified but sage) advice about road-building was largely ignored. "As an engineer, I can tell you the root of all human mistakes. It’s people putting things right, before they have finished finding out what’s wrong." Could he have been referring to…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 21, 2011 at 11:00 — No Comments

Break the chains of human bondage?

It’s hardly credible that a system which puts the onus on children to beware motorists, instead of the other way round, is supported by the law of the land. Again, it’s hardly credible that a system which denies choice and defies commonsense is enshrined in the rules of the road. Time to break them thar rules?

Added by Martin Cassini on March 18, 2011 at 11:30 — No Comments

Traffic lights out at busy junction

"MOTORISTS are being warned to drive carefully," reports the Southend Standard, "after traffic lights stopped working at a busy junction." The clear implication is that when lights are "working", they are free to drive carelessly. NIB…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 17, 2011 at 16:00 — No Comments

Disobeying traffic signals

As well as defying commonsense and denying discretion, traffic signals foster dependency. Every day in London you’ll see pedestrians walk straight up to a Pelican crossing and press the button. Then they look up, see nothing coming, and cross. When the light changes, traffic has to stop for no reason other than the light is red. If you are driving and, like the pedestrian, use your…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 15, 2011 at 14:30 — No Comments

Less government, not more

"Civilisations need strong functioning governments if they are to prosper," writes Will Hutton. Hmm. Belgium is without government and doing fine by all accounts. Given fair laws, maybe the "need" for government wanes – in the same way that if equality (instead of priority) provided the framework for interaction on the roads, the "need" for traffic regulation would…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 15, 2011 at 11:00 — No Comments

The Killing's Sarah Lund on the case

"A lot of thought went into my character’s wardrobe," says Sofie Gråbøl (from Andrew Anthony in The Observer). "We wanted to avoid the cliché of a woman in a suit in a man’s world. Then I saw the sweater and I knew. It tells of a woman who believes in soft values, togetherness." We can relate to that! FiT Roads (or Equality Streets), is all about integration and empathy. What is the…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 13, 2011 at 18:30 — No Comments

Missing the (slightly less) obvious

In a report reminding us that poor air quality is responsible for 4000 premature deaths a year, BBC London News didn't mention traffic signals as a congestion cause and pollutant accelerator. Nor did the GLA's environment adviser mention traffic system reform as a route to better air quality, despite evidence (No Idle…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 12, 2011 at 9:30 — No Comments

Relative imperatives

You’re sitting at a red light with nothing happening on the junction. You can see it’s safe to go. You know about global warming. Every second of pointless waiting is an insult to the planet and your intelligence. Do you stay or do you go? If you go, you are acting according to commonsense and environmental imperatives. If you stay, you are obeying the law, but neglecting those other…

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Added by Martin Cassini on March 10, 2011 at 13:30 — No Comments

Traffic Lights on The One Show

This snappy item was mostly about why traffic lights are "necessary", but there’s a bit near the end which spreads a bit of FiT philosophy. Video.

Added by Martin Cassini on March 10, 2011 at 12:00 — No Comments

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