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All Blog Posts (375)

M5 crash

(Update of yesterday's post) Condolences to the people affected in what seems to have been a freak event, but calls for the 70mph limit to remain are irrelevant. Instead of driving by numbers, we should drive according to context. Any crash is yet another reminder that phasing in an advanced driving test is long overdue.

Added by Martin Cassini on November 6, 2011 at 12:00 — No Comments


The biggest guff spouted on the subject is that raising the limit will increase emissions by 20%. No, it’s not mph that matters – it’s rpm. At 70mph, old petrol cars rev at 3,500rpm. Longer-geared diesel or newer cars rev at 2000, using about a third less fuel and producing a third less CO2. On safety, what about middle-lane blockers who not only waste motorway space but cause bunching and get away scot-free when “accidents” occur? But the whole “debate” – about driving by numbers instead of…


Added by Martin Cassini on September 30, 2011 at 21:09 — No Comments

New traffic lights - old mistakes

Traffic lights are being installed at a T-junction near Bideford despite my proposal for a less expensive, safer FiT (filter-in-turn) solution. Story here.

Added by Martin Cassini on September 22, 2011 at 13:00 — No Comments

Equality Streets

For my latest blog posts (3 today), see Equality Streets (

Added by Martin Cassini on September 8, 2011 at 22:44 — No Comments

Roads minister on speed (as it were)

Until the last paragraph, this sounded reasonable ... People shouldn’t need speed limits to “tell them what speed to drive at”! Too often the limit is a target, and even 20 in an urban setting, especially with children around, can be lethal. Drivers should be able to use commonsense to judge appropriate speed based on circumstances and context.

Added by Martin Cassini on June 13, 2011 at 20:02 — No Comments

Government lies

A prominent news story yesterday was the prospect of stiff fines for Britain’s failure to meet emissions reduction targets, particularly nitrogen dioxide which causes 4000 premature deaths a year. The main source of NO2 is traffic. Radio 4 News quoted the government as saying, “We’re doing all we can”. I have over a dozen unanswered emails to ministers about the potential for carbon cuts from traffic system reform. Do they respond? Do they act? Do pigs fly? Professor of environmental…


Added by Martin Cassini on June 10, 2011 at 15:30 — No Comments

The misappliance of "science"

In the summer, you expect jams on the A303 because of man-made bottlenecks, i.e. dual-carriageways funneling into single. But nearing the end of a mega jam the other day, I saw it was due to something else: traffic lights at a roundabout. The principal A303 was getting just 12 secs of green time, while the A345 (with much lighter traffic) was getting 35 secs! They pap you and zap you for straying over the limit when the road is clear, but when you're bumper to bumper for forty minutes…


Added by Martin Cassini on June 7, 2011 at 15:30 — No Comments

Speed rap

They say that any publicity is good publicity. I’m not so sure. Anyway, it’s out there, so it might as well be on here. One news story here, another here.

Added by Martin Cassini on June 2, 2011 at 15:51 — No Comments

Huhne - on the right ropes?

Whether Chris Huhne tried to pass the buck or not, the saga reveals the contortions to which citizens can be driven to escape the tentacles of a system that values the letter of the law above the spirit. Speed doesn’t kill. It’s inappropriate speed that kills, or speed in the wrong hands. One-size-fits-all limits are a contradiction in terms, because life is about infinite variables. Simple-minded groups such as BRAKE! would claim that freedom to exercise individual judgement based on…


Added by Martin Cassini on May 18, 2011 at 9:59 — No Comments

DEMOcracy v AUTOcracy

In his Mansion House speech last night, the Foreign Secretary called for funding to help emerging democracies in North Africa avoid a reversion to autocracy. It’s not too far-fetched to see a parallel with roads. Britain is known for its democratic freedoms, yet roads are subject to autocratic control. If you arrive at a junction and can see it’s clear, are you free to go? Not if…


Added by Martin Cassini on May 5, 2011 at 8:30 — No Comments

I hate traffic lights, but ...

... is this going a bit far?

It probably wasn't funny for the guy involved. I spotted the incident, or its aftermath, driving over Kingston Hill yesterday. The location is the junction at Kingston Hospital. This was also posted at Equality… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on April 23, 2011 at 17:41 — No Comments

Sheep in the City


(Also posted at Equality Streets). Traffic controls are removing the ability of drivers and pedestrians to think for themselves. A new generation of robotic, lobotomised road-users is increasingly incapable of acting according to context, relying instead on traffic controls to guide their behaviour. The new breed of pedestrian can’t cross the road…


Added by Martin Cassini on April 20, 2011 at 11:30 — No Comments

From FiT Roads to Equality Streets

Free to Choose and FiT Roads are relaunching as Equality Streets. The transition will take time, so all will continue in use, but I've already started posting more frequently at Equality Streets. To join up/post comments there, you will be asked to register with Wordpress (pretty painless).

Added by Martin Cassini on April 10, 2011 at 10:46 — No Comments

Red light Ken

Ken Livingstone says (ES, 7.4.11), "We now know that at least 4,000 people die prematurely every year because of poor air quality." Bizarre that it has taken him so long to wise up to this well-known fact. Under his watch as Mayor, over 1000 sets of traffic lights were added to London streets, each costing hundreds of thousands to install, more to maintain and run, making congestion…


Added by Martin Cassini on April 7, 2011 at 20:00 — No Comments

Speed doesn't kill

It's speed in the wrong hands that kills, or inappropriate speed - the very speed we get at priority and signal-controlled junctions. For all the negative press about "speeding", you’d think exceeding the limit must be a major factor in "accidents". In fact, the DfT attributes only 5% of accidents to exceeding the limit. See P.7 of…


Added by Martin Cassini on April 6, 2011 at 22:30 — No Comments

Sweet FA?

The FA demands respect when it should be earning it. How can you respect an organisation that fails so abjectly to adopt umpiring techniques that have been around since the advent of TV action replay? In the same way, how can you respect traffic controls that subvert age-old social instinct and common law principles of equal rights and…


Added by Martin Cassini on April 4, 2011 at 17:30 — No Comments

Heavy duty control

No doubt traffic engineers puff with pride at their ability to apportion equal green time to the multiple movements at interchanges such as Vauxhall Cross and Trafalgar Square (6 secs per min). Does it bother them that their complex algorithms kill the rhythm of natural flow, meaning that at least half the time road-users are disadvantaged and needlessly delayed, including pedestrians…


Added by Martin Cassini on April 3, 2011 at 17:30 — No Comments

Google v the TCD

High on Google's list of management advice is "empower your team and don’t micromanage." If the TCD (traffic control dictatorship) had a list, its core directive would no doubt be the polar opposite, along the lines of "give road-users no power of choice or discretion, micromanage them, dictate their every move, and book them if they stray an inch."

Added by Martin Cassini on April 3, 2011 at 12:30 — No Comments

Speed cameras

You’ll have heard that Oxfordshire is redeploying speed cameras. There’s a lively discussion about it here.

Added by Martin Cassini on April 2, 2011 at 14:30 — No Comments

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…


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

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