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November 2009 Blog Posts (17)

Jargon and inaction

Public sector jargon can do "tangible harm", says an MP select committee. "Civil servants have phrases like 'stand ready'," said David Blunkett, "which actually means 'we're doing nothing about this unless absolutely forced to do so'." It echoes the lights-off trial agreed by Westminster on 8 April, then neutered and delayed by TfL (who claimed the credit for the idea along with Boris, who turned down the proposal in 2008).

Added by Martin Cassini on November 30, 2009 at 11:00 — 1 Comment

Michael Palin on refugees, Bob Dylan on arms dealers

A remark in today's Observer about asylum seekers is equally relevant to the alienation caused by traffic controls. "As individuals we are not hostile to each other," says Palin, "but systems get in the way." Too right. But systems are devised by individuals. Those in power have been made aware of the defects in the traffic control system (which helps kill or injure 30,000 people on our roads every year). Yet they continue to enforce it. "By threatening my baby, unborn and unnamed, you ain't… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on November 22, 2009 at 20:00 — No Comments

Villains of the Peace

Left to our own co-operative devices on roads with equal or no priority, we get on fine. But on roads ruled by anti-social priority - which upsets the social order and sets the stage for lethal conflict - we suffer the fallout. And we get the blame when things go wrong. The villains of the peace are traffic managers. They f**k you up, the engineers; they may not mean to, but they do.

Added by Martin Cassini on November 22, 2009 at 19:30 — No Comments

Once Upon a Time in the West (of London)

18.11.09 In the early evening winter dark, cycling down Park Lane towards Hyde Park Corner, near the Hilton, a bus overtakes me then pulls in to stop. At first I assume he is going to leave a gap for me to carry on through (my flashing cycle lights are on front and back) but no, he blocks and forces me to stop. He is at an angle to the kerb - as I brake, I thump the side of the bus hard with my open gloved hand, twice, to express my fury. There is just room between kerb and bus for me to reach… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on November 20, 2009 at 0:00 — No Comments

WMD, D & D

On my bike yesterday, turning right into Park Lane at Brook Gate bordered on suicide. As I pedalled through the second set of lights, they changed to amber. I still had to get across four lanes of pent-up traffic to my left, about to be released from red on its final stretch before Marble Arch. Three lanes could see me. But hidden behind a bus in the inside lane, a BMW suddenly appeared, rocketing forward. I thought when he saw me trying to get to safety on the left (Hyde Park) side, he'd slow… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on November 18, 2009 at 12:22 — No Comments

The system v children and motorists

Britain is breaching the UN Convention on the rights of the child, says the Children's Rights Alliance for Europe. It is the most punitive nation in Europe, with child protection services unfit for purpose. "We punish children through the courts for things that were once seen as pranks," says Dr Mike Lindsay. "Six children were given Asbos for climbing a tree in Gloucester. We seem to want to criminalise and punish everyone." He is calling for an overhaul of the juvenile justice system.… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on November 15, 2009 at 11:30 — No Comments

The misappliance of science

On the Today programme, scientist and author of The Master and his Emissary, Dr Iain McGilchrist, talked about the role and function of the brain. He deplored the destructive intrusion of compliance, regulation and other mechanisms into our lives, which interrupt the flow, and waste our potential for creative thinking (or words to that effect). Highly relevant to traffic control which wrecks the organic nature of social interaction.

Added by Martin Cassini on November 14, 2009 at 14:30 — No Comments

Pawns in their puerile game

In a new game devised by traffic engineers, drivers in Camden will be "rewarded" for doing 20mph by getting three green lights in a row, and "speeders" will be punished with a red. Not sure how it will work in different traffic volumes, or how they will stop "speeders" without stopping non-speeders in the same wave. Of course there would be no need for such games if we were free to act according to context, unmolested by "experts".

Added by Martin Cassini on November 12, 2009 at 22:00 — 1 Comment

And now for something completely similar

Spotted in today's Metro: Disabled driver Harold Cadwallader was given a £40 parking ticket after the sun bleached the print off his blue badge. Wardens said they could not be sure it was valid. "I rang the council but they advised me to put my badge where the sun doesn't shine," said Harold, 87, of Woodbridge, Suffolk.

Added by Martin Cassini on November 12, 2009 at 16:00 — No Comments

Traffic control causes "accidents" and delay

In 45 years of using White City roundabout (below the Westway), I've never seen congestion or an accident. Saturday 7 Nov 09 is the first time I've seen it with the shiny new signals "working". Congestion. And a crashed abandoned car. How do the authorities justify expenditure when it causes delay and harm? The traffic control dictatorship is alive and well, and we all suffer the consequences of its unchecked intrusion into our lives.

Added by Martin Cassini on November 10, 2009 at 14:30 — No Comments

Three killed on London roads in 24 hrs

Plus two seriously injured (Evening Standard 9.11.09). Two pedestrians crushed under buses, one in Knightsbridge, one in Tooting. Without investigating (and would the police tell me anything?), I can only speculate, but Knightsbridge and Tooting are both plagued by traffic lights that force road-users to fight for gaps and green time. Would those buses have been killers without priority and lights, on Roads FiT for People?

Added by Martin Cassini on November 10, 2009 at 10:30 — No Comments

Prohibition on the roads equally counterproductive?

In 1981 (writes Ben Goldacre, Guardian, 7.11.09), studies of rates of change in cannabis use based on national surveys in the 70s found the most rapid increase was in countries with the toughest penalties. Cannabis use in the UK fell after the move from Class B to C. Prohibition of alcohol provides the most famous example of counterproductive control and enforcement. "If you wish to justify a policy that increases the harms associated with each individual act of drug use by creating violent… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on November 7, 2009 at 10:06 — No Comments

Bristol lights out

More background on the Bristol lights-out campaign and my involvement here. [Back tab to return to site.] They edited out the crux of what I had to say, viz. that lights are only a symptom of the underlying cause of most of our problems on the road: priority. Replace the skewed system of priority with equality, and most of our problems will vanish in a puff of… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on November 7, 2009 at 10:00 — No Comments

Safe cycling

In the current debate about cycling deaths, are the usual pundits missing the point? My solution? Abolish directional priority to create a level playing-field where road-users approach junctions carefully and interact sociably. And make cycling proficiency a mandatory part of the driving test.

Added by Martin Cassini on November 7, 2009 at 10:00 — No Comments

Doctrinal disaster

In Errornomics, Pulitzer winner Joseph Hallinan says that Hudson Bay pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, credits his team for helping bring the plane in. Instead of one chief, there was a group of equals. “As a result, it’s proven you make far fewer errors.” Similarly, if nurses stop seeing surgeons as superior beings and speak up if they see something wrong, it reduces errors. There is a clear parallel with life and death on the road. In removing responsibility and treating us as subservient… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on November 4, 2009 at 11:00 — No Comments

Oxford Circus

While Boris and Westminster congratulate themselves on obvious pedestrian improvements to Oxford Circus (costing £5m) – marking diagonal as well as right-angle crossings – Oxford Street and the rest of London continue to fume at innumerable unnecessary lights. The other day I was in a bus on an Oxford St crammed as always with bumper-to-bumper diesel buses. At one junction we had to wait for three complete signal cycles before we got out of the junction. Why? Because the "experts" who run and… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on November 2, 2009 at 19:00 — No Comments

Sunday Bloody Sunday Times

As far as I can see, the scheduled article about the lights-off campaign spreading to Bristol is not in today's paper. Apologies to Members - I tried to broadcast a message but the system isn't functioning.

Added by Martin Cassini on November 1, 2009 at 9:30 — No Comments

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