Feb 132023

(‘bad’ language ahead)


Reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph reduces the fatality of hitting a pedestrian or cyclist from 40% to 5%. Slower speeds are fundamentally safer on crowded urban roads, and small country lanes – everyone has more time to react and even in the worst case where a collision occurs, the accident is more survivable.

There are those who claim the lower speeds will slow them down – tough! That continually looking at the speedometer is more dangerous – get used to lower speeds. All of the excuses I have seen amount to selfishness.

And similarly the opposition to prioritising vulnerable road users – letting pedestrians cross at junctions, giving cyclists at least 1.5m of space when overtaking, etc. all amount to motorists’ entitlement. You aren’t more important, you don’t pay for the roads, and the safety of cyclists and pedestrians takes priority to your convenience.

Who Are You Looking At?
Sep 202021

In the UK there is something known as “vehicle excise duty” which the owners of some motorised vehicles have to pay. Before 1937, this was paid into a road fund used exclusively to pay for the creation of the road network. But from that date, roads are funded out of general taxation and local council taxes.

Which means that everyone (or just about everyone) is paying for the roads and that is no bad thing – we all benefit to some extent (although the pollution is a bit of a drag).

Filthy Roaring Beasts Rushing Along The Scar

The interesting thing is that because local roads are locally funded (to an extent), there is a good chance that a pedestrian is paying more for the roads within a city than the car driver – the driver is more likely to be a visitor to the city and thus pays considerably less. So by the argument that whoever pays should have priority, it should be the pedestrian who does!

Mar 152018

At pedestrians crossing (except for zebras), there is this strange box with a big button on it. When pressed, it announces to the traffic system that you want to cross the road.

Stating the obvious, but it seems that this is necessary. A strangely high proportion of people seem to amble up to a crossing and wait there hoping that the signal will change; it may do (especially if someone else pushes the button), or it may not.

There are rumours that at some crossings, the button is merely a placebo; fair enough. But at the majority of the ones I know well enough (and I know quite a few that well), a button push is required for the little green man to show up.

Expecting someone else to push the little button is laziness taken to the ultimate extreme.

And whilst we’re talking about it, the little green man that lights up is supposed to mean something – when he is green, you can cross the road; when he is red, you don’t. And yes I’m well aware that he’s red more often than not.

Through The Gateway

Mar 082018

It sounds silly doesn’t it? Two people are crossing a pedestrian crossing; one walks straight across and the other walks a bit faster in a diagonal because they are turning left (or right) after they’re over the crossing. And the later crosses the path of the former, interrupting their crossing.

Dangerous? That’s going a bit too far.

Annoying as hell? Sure is.

The Window

Jun 152012

Today somebody finally woke up and realised that the amount of time that pedestrians get to cross the road at a crossing is ludicrously short. They concentrate on the problem that the elderly have in crossing a road in the short time that the little man shows green.

But they are not the only ones who can have trouble. And it is not just about the trouble in crossing in time.

Why should pedestrians huddle at the edge of the road waiting until they get the chance to rush across the road tugging at their forelocks ? Car drivers may protest that giving pedestrians more priority will slow them down, but come on – it isn’t as if you don’t get there quicker than pedestrians anyway. What is a few extra minutes ?

Car drivers might argue that because they pay so much in motoring taxes that they deserve extra priority on the roads. Well, it’s an interesting argument, but is really totally irrelevant. Taxes of any kind are raised in all sorts of different ways and put into a common pool from which government spending is taken – both central government and local government. And the government decides how much will be spent on roads in competition with all the other demands on government funds.

And roads are not the only costs that motoring causes – there is also dealing with the health issues related to motoring such as accidents and respiratory issues.

Besides which, the way that local roads are funded – and all pedestrian crossings are on local roads – means that a relatively small proportion of the costs is made up of motoring taxes. No council funds come directly from motoring taxes, but from council taxes instead. Which means that pedestrian waiting to cross the road may actually be paying more towards the roads than you think.

Besides which it is not simply about the money, but about simple fairness and safety. In terms of safety, the lights need to be green not just long enough to allow slower pedestrians to cross the road, but also to allow pedestrians who are reasonably close to the crossing to cross the road. And even long enough at cross-roads to allow pedestrians to cross both roads – to do the equivalent of a left or right turn.