Free to Choose

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All Blog Posts Tagged 'traffic' (34)

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

Equality not priority

If, instead of rule by priority (a traffic engineering model), we lived by values of equality (a social model), then the cogs in the current machine that clash – above all safety and efficiency – would mesh. Like shuffling cards we'd merge in turn. Congestion would melt away and roads would be safe. The spanner in the current works – priority – stems from railway engineering. Clearly rail needs segregating from road – trains need greater…


Added by Martin Cassini on December 29, 2010 at 18:30 — No Comments

Old Man River

There’s an article in today’s i about high fliers training to become psychotherapists in later life. For the first half of life, said Jung, the ego needs to be pushy and self-centred, while maturity is more about reflection and compassion. Parallels with traffic? (1) The traffic control dictatorship (TCD) clearly suffers from arrested development, never have got beyond the egotistic, insensitive phase. (2) One of the foundation…


Added by Martin Cassini on December 29, 2010 at 15:30 — No Comments

Revolution on the road?

Some councils are wising up to ideas of traffic deregulation, which until recently they resisted tooth and nail. Yes, a road revolution is in the air. But most councils still miss the wider context, so, for the time being, we are still required to conform to the technocrat’s idea of how we should act. Under the current system of PRIORITY, we must continue to live (and die) by rules that derive from railway engineering.…


Added by Martin Cassini on October 26, 2010 at 18:30 — 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

The Home Front

Today the number of British soldiers killed in the tenth year in Afghanistan reached 300. That’s the same number who die on our roads every year. We are supposed to be at peace. But the rules of the road put us at war. What an indictment.

Added by Martin Cassini on June 21, 2010 at 22:00 — No Comments

New videos

No room on this site unless I delete other videos, which I might at some point. Meanwhile: The Road to Nowhere, Part 1 (7.33') - a tighter edit of an earlier piece:…


Added by Martin Cassini on June 14, 2010 at 23:00 — 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

A portable wind-up

Waiting at portable traffic signals on a straight stretch of road for unmanned roadworks, gaudy orange plastic fencing fanning off in each direction, I wondered again at the arrogance of traffic managers to assume inability or presume guilt without a shred of evidence, and to usurp our responsibility and judgement. The "works" occupied less space than a parked car.

Added by Martin Cassini on February 22, 2010 at 12:30 — No Comments

Are you a sheep?

Today I received an email from a traffic engineer who wrote: "You simply cannot present a case against signals as you are not a signals expert and do not address all the reasons for them; you generalise and choose to ignore any evidence that they might be suitable at certain locations". Actually, I've always said that signals might be needed at major junctions at peak times, although I add, "but how do we know until we've tried it"? If traffic "experts"…


Added by Martin Cassini on February 16, 2010 at 8:00 — No Comments

The evidence of your own eyes. Irrelevant?

There is a tendency among traffic engineers to dismiss eye witness accounts as anecdotal evidence, and direct experience as irrelevant. If it can't be counted, it doesn't count. If it can't be weighed or measured, it doesn't exist. A remark overheard at a traffic management meeting seems to sum it up. "Our traffic systems would work fine if it weren't for the problem of pedestrians."

Added by Martin Cassini on February 4, 2010 at 22:00 — No Comments

Give us wings

On Today, Conran CEO, Roger Mavity, said finance directors tend not to make good CEOs. FDs are an important part of the team, but you need energy and caution. A well-designed car has one brake and one accelerator. Two brakes and no accelerator makes an unexciting journey. Applied to politics? It does feel as if former Chancellor, Gordon Brown, now PM, has a brake under both feet. Good FDs are better at controlling than creating. You need a balance between the two skills. Nothing… Continue

Added by Martin Cassini on January 22, 2010 at 17:00 — No Comments

Pedestrian killed at traffic lights in Vancouver

Further proof, if it is needed, that traffic lights are no guarantee of pedestrian safety. On the contrary. Story here.

Added by Martin Cassini on January 5, 2010 at 11:49 — No Comments

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

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

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