Free to Choose

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July 2010 Blog Posts (20)

The invisible gorilla

An experiment by two US psychology professors, Daniel Simons and Chistopher Chabris, involves a…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 25, 2010 at 21:00 — No Comments


I forget the reference (an article on post-feminism?), but somewhere this weekend I read that "inequality has been done". Not on the roads, it hasn't. Recently I pitched a FiT (filter in turn) solution for an out-of-town junction which has a poor accident record, where the council is thinking of installing lights. My traffic engineer associate says we need evidence to prove FiT will work outside…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 25, 2010 at 21:00 — No Comments

Stitch in Time

A trouble family in Birmingham has cost the taxpayer £25m, providing a case for early education and support to help people become constructive members of society rather than predators and parasites. Treat causes rather than symptoms, invest in prevention, and society will reap the benefits long term. Re the roads, it’s something I tried to argue…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 21, 2010 at 8:00 — No Comments

Big society

Called "the largest transfer of power from the state to the individual", the big society has an obvious application to the roads. Provided there is a change in culture from priority to equality - with roadway redesign to express that equality, and legal changes to support it - scrapping most traffic controls and leaving us to our own devices will see many of our congestion and road safety problems vanish in a puff of exhaust…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 19, 2010 at 18:30 — No Comments

Bristol lights-off trials

After shelving our 2008 proposal for a lights-off trial, Bristol, after pressure from the successful trial in the nearby town of Portishead, could delay no longer. But instead of giving us a few meaty four-way junctions, we were given two small, partly one-way junctions. One was at the foot of a straight downhill stretch which encouraged inappropriate speed. Also, the council was "unable" to fund a public awareness campaign -…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 19, 2010 at 18:00 — No Comments

Re-disorganisation, re-dysfunctionalisation

In yesterday’s Guardian, Polly Toynbee had a sobering article about the prospect of NHS privatisation under the new government. "If GPs think they will be free to commission who they like among trusted local consultants, think again. Monitor is to become a competition regulator, whose first duty is to enforce a free market. This means all NHS contracts will fall under EU competition law, so tenders must be advertised…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 18, 2010 at 10:30 — No Comments

Lights out in Richmond

Richmond’s take on the plan to switch off traffic signals can be found here. Some useful comments too.

Added by Martin Cassini on July 16, 2010 at 12:00 — No Comments

The old road rapidly changing?

Politically I’m unaffiliated, but my calls for individual liberty, responsibility, and kind cuts from traffic system reform have been aired at Conservative Home. Article and comments…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 14, 2010 at 10:30 — No Comments


From The Northampton Chronicle & Echo: "Motorists had to be careful during rush hour in the town centre after the traffic lights in Upper Mounts were hit by a power cut at about 3pm. The failure also affected local businesses, including the Mounts Baths, which was closed until 5pm. The…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 14, 2010 at 6:00 — No Comments

Happiness v misery on the roads

Clearly we're going to be more tolerant and make better judgements if we’re in a frame of mind of relaxed alert rather than a state of stress. The Observer had a piece about Warwick Business School economics professor, Andrew Oswald, an expert on the relationship… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on July 13, 2010 at 12:30 — No Comments

Stranger danger

There is too much fear on the road - a sort of generalised stranger danger. As fellow humans, drivers don't want to bully pedestrians, but the rules of road tell them to ditch their manners in obedience to a system of control which takes absolute precedence. We are cowed into submission by rules which make us cow others into submission. The scenario I'm picturing: waiting to cross the road as a pedestrian and being…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 13, 2010 at 11:30 — No Comments

Reduce - another easy answer to traffic congestion

I was thinking of the Reduce/Reuse/Recycle way of removing the levels of rubbish we send to landfill and the same model can be used to describe traffic reduction. Reduce might mean less journeys but also smaller vehicles and cycling instead of driving. Re-use and Re-cycle might be car-sharing and public transport, all of which helps.

I started cycling again the other day, it had taken a year to remember to buy a new pump so I could inflate the tyres. Then I realised why I didn't enjoy… Continue

Added by Luke Briner on July 12, 2010 at 11:24 — 1 Comment

Press Button, look, cross, stop the traffic

Pelican crossings and crossings at traffic light intersections seem to follow this strange pattern where people out of habit press the "Wait" button and then look and often will then cross the road where there is a gap in traffic. Of course a while later, the lights go to red to allow people to cross but no-one is there, just a load of cars waiting for nothing. Ironically, I often find when the lights do change to green, some people start crossing to try and get across before the cars have… Continue

Added by Luke Briner on July 12, 2010 at 11:18 — 1 Comment

Priority = inequality

Priority based on status of road is discriminatory. It supports inequality. By contrast, filter in turn (FiT) – based on time of arrival – expresses equal status, equal rights, equal responsibility, equal opportunity. The dysfunctional rules of the road defy civilised values. They have an unseen hand in countless "accidents", yet they are supported by the law of the land.

Added by Martin Cassini on July 9, 2010 at 10:00 — No Comments

How many times?

How often do you approach a green light, as I did on my bike just now, only for it to change to red before you reach it? Meanwhile the poor suckers on the other road have been waiting while no-one was using the green. The controllers tell us they have ITS (intelligent traffic systems) which can sense demand. No, the most intelligent system is the human ability to negotiate movement and to make subtle adjustments in the blink…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 5, 2010 at 19:00 — No Comments

Wrong end of telescope, Kulveer!

Boris’s transport adviser, Kulveer Ranger, was quoted as saying, "There are few things more annoying than sitting at a traffic light on red for no apparent reason, and we've now identified 145 sites where we think the signals may no longer be doing a useful job." Of course I agree with his first point, but his second? Out of 6,000 signals in London, he and his well-paid team can find only 145 useless sets? Jeez. I wish I was…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 5, 2010 at 15:30 — No Comments


Out for a walk on Sunday afternoon, we wanted to cross a residential stretch of Kennington Rd. The traffic was light but steady. Was it about to slow down and let us cross? Was it f++k. We were near a pelican crossing and could have demanded a red. But we didn't particularly want to make the traffic stop, only for it to have to re-start. So we waited, half hoping someone would give way. But no, we had to wait for the entire…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 4, 2010 at 20:00 — No Comments

ASBOs for policymakers and traffic engineers?

Cycling on Westminster Bridge Road yesterday, I was forced into the kerb by a bus driver stopping at red (why do drivers always feel the urge to overtake cyclists, even when it brings them no benefit?). On Euston Road in the car, I saw drivers giving the finger and sweating rage as they jockeyed for position in a yellow box junction at signals which take a week to change. The system of priority that gives rise to the…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 2, 2010 at 11:00 — No Comments

Cart before horse (again)

BBC London News had a report about the mayor’s plans to remove 100 pelican crossings "to improve traffic flow". It makes sense, but not without advance measures to make Roads FiT for People, including a change in culture from priority to equality, and streetscape redesign to express that equality. The onus has to be on motorists to beware pedestrians, not the other way round. Until then, pedestrians will remain at a dangerous…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 2, 2010 at 11:00 — No Comments

Joykill and ride

Isn’t it a thing of beauty to see the individuals of a species interacting spontaneously? A kindle of cats, a murmuration of starlings, a colony of bats, a passell of possum, a scatter of skateboarders, a relish of road-users negotiating movement without the "help" of traffic controls. Are traffic managers blind to the beauty of natural flow? Certainly they seem bent on forcing us, like unforgiving parents, to submit to their…


Added by Martin Cassini on July 1, 2010 at 19:00 — No Comments

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