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!

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.



May 262007

A bit of an odd mixture, but this all occurred to me when I was waiting 2 minutes at a pedestrian crossing for a chance to cross the road in 10 seconds; at which point I would have to do this all over again.

It occurred to me that most of the cars whizzing past my nose were being driven by people who didn’t pay the local council tax which funds the local roads whereas I do. Seemed a little unfair that they get more time to get across the crossing than I do, when it is my money paying for everything. Don’t get me wrong … whilst I might like the roads to be a bit cheaper, and we should spend more money on public transport, I still think the roads are worth having.

Of course it is not a simple matter where every pedestrian is a tax payer and every motorist is an outside who doesn’t pay the council tax. And motorists will say that their road tax is being used to pay for the roads … which is true for motorways (which I’m not commenting on here), but not the case for local roads.

I just think we need to redress the balance between the pedestrian and the motorist a little more.

Historically we have gone to an enormous amount of effort to keep traffic moving, and it is time to accept that it just isn’t possible with the levels of traffic we can have in today’s cities. And giving pedestrians a bit more priority on the roads is the polite thing to do given that we are helping pay for the roads. We need equal time to cross the roads that motorists have to cross the pedestrian crossings, and we need more pedestrian crossings.

If it takes a motorist 20 minutes to traverse my city rather than 15 minutes, so what? The motorist will still be well ahead of the pedestrian who will take an hour or more for the same journey so they will still be well ahead.