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X-post: traffic safety -- risk taking - pondering "language"

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  • Simon Baddeley
    x-post We inhabit an adversarial political culture in which debaters in legislative chambers and the courts tilt at each other before a jury. No-one will come
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 9, 2001
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      x-post

      We inhabit an adversarial political culture in which debaters in legislative
      chambers and the courts tilt at each other before a jury. No-one will come
      out a winner if we continue depicting
      the problem in black and white terms - but the impulse to polarise is
      also fuelled by current conditions - the daily experience of urban cycling
      (and
      walking). Adversarial advocacy can be the means by which passionate anger
      and frustration (as well as enthusiasm) can be channelled into collective
      political rather than individualised and fragmented aggression and
      vandalism.

      I'm pleased the daily experience of motorists is being affected by the
      spread of measures to reduce speed. I realise this fuels emotions that
      compare to those felt by cyclists and walkers. The conditions for
      adversarial debate are set by the hour.

      It's time to get out of our cars and give support to other forms of mobility
      and make more decisions in our personal lives that point us towards
      sustainable economies including access by proximity rather than mobility.
      These condition will only become feasible if cars are abandoned in large
      numbers so that their cost in road space and government regulation can be
      reclaimed for walking, cycling and public transport.

      To achieve these ends I and many others support parking charges, extension
      of parking restrictions to the inner suburbs of more cities, congestion
      charges, car insurance premium boosts, restrictions on business concessions
      for car users, green travel schemes for staff, speed restrictions, home
      zones, bus only lanes, car-share schemes, lanes from which one-driver cars
      are excluded, restrictions on advertising that sells a car on the basis of
      speed, stricter penalties for motor traffic offences, higher fuel taxes,
      telemetry to monitor and regulate driver behaviour, car design that favour
      low speed manoeuvrability including better gearing and speedo design for
      speeds between 5-30 mph, tax concessions for low cc cars, speed regulators
      on cars to stop hi-speed rat running in residential roads (or anywhere),
      inclusion of vehicle recycling costs into the initial cost of cars with
      responsibility for this lying with manufacturers, development of car
      assessment measures that include safety when in collision with pedestrians
      and cyclists, wide acceptance of risk-compensation/risk homeostasis theory
      by the lead motoring lobbyists, tougher conditions for passing driving tests
      with restrictions on driver distraction such as mobile phones, music and
      talk and eating while at the wheel, permanent vacation for "TopGear" and TV
      programmes that glorify speed in cars, end of automatic presence of pages of
      motoring features and pull-outs in the press, further spread of Sustrans
      network and privileged road crossings with default green lights for walkers
      and pedestrians (rather than the present reverse of this), tourist routes
      that can begin and end at rail stations and allow visitors maximum access to
      an area without needing their cars, health programmes that promote active
      rather than passive travel (e.g walking and cycling vs. cars, buses,
      trains), promotion of walking buses for the school run, the sight of more
      and more police and medics on cycles as well as cycles for government
      officials visiting urban sites and inspection premises, legal privileging of
      the position of car crash victims and their relatives, advertising that
      shows how sexy, powerful and fashionable it makes you to be a walker and
      cyclist and how motoring seriously affects health and sexual potency (e.g.
      reverse the marketing lies about motoring and apply them to the
      alternatives - where of course we all know they are true (:}) ), growth of
      local self-confidence to express anger against the dominance of the car so
      that agricultural and other rural shows that survive on urban tourism don't
      feel they have to give so much prominence to car trade stands to attract
      paying visitors, continued restrictions on the use of off-road vehicles and
      motorbikes on rural trails, tougher restriction on shopping and
      entertainment only accessible by car including a planning paradigm that
      restricts auto-dependent settlement patterns and recovers our cities as
      places where people want to live free of the noise, smell ugliness and
      danger caused by auto-dependency.

      There's a role for cars somewhere in all this (I use mine to give lifts to
      elderly neighbours, to take stuff to the dump and when parked in front it
      makes my house look occupied when I'm out) but it would need to be very
      different from the current hedonistic pursuit of driving for its own sake
      fuelled by the power agenda that underlies desires for cars.

      Any textual analysis of what I've written here will pick out the constant
      use of restriction, regulation and words like strict. It is the same
      language I'd use in
      requiring government intervention to stop violence against my fellow humans.
      Things have got to a state where we need to recover law and order on the
      roads. That means government action with the language and action that comes
      with it. Only then can those of us who put walking and cycling as our main
      delights - through choice or because cars are unaffordable - recover our
      liberty.

      Zechariah 8: I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous
      for her with great fury. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; There shall yet old
      men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his
      staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full
      of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.

      Set these lines to beautiful music and you will get some sense of my
      strength of feelings on this matter.


      S

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Peter Edwardson <peter@...>
      To: Simon Baddeley <s.j.baddeley@...>
      Cc: <urbancyclist-uk@...>
      Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2001 6:42 PM
      Subject: RE: urbancyclist-uk: [FWD: traffic safety -- risk taking -
      pondering "language"


      From the urbancyclist-uk e-mail list

      Hi Simon,

      I have no problem with the concept that speed restrictions are justified on
      most roads - but inevitably they are a trade-off between liberty and safety.
      Where that line is drawn is the crux of the debate on this issue.

      Rest assured that there is still plenty of enjoyable driving to be had in
      the UK - and if you tire of that there's plenty more in France, with its
      brilliant, uncrowded roads and (away from motorways) very light-touch
      traffic enforcement. In general, the nasty speed cameras aren't on the good
      roads anyway. And, as a member of the IAM, I find all driving, even around
      my local roads in Stockport and Manchester, interesting and stimulating, and
      I'm constantly being self-critical and trying to improve my standards.

      Cars aren't going to disappear, or greatly reduce in numbers, in the
      foreseeable future. Most planning over the last thirty or forty years has
      been based on the idea of large-scale car use, so there's a lot of inertia
      to be overcome. Even now, we're still building plenty of edge-of-town
      housing, business parks and shopping centres. The growth of the 24-hour
      society is another factor encouraging car use.

      There are clear signs of a revival of city-centre living - and many vibrant
      urban enclaves such as Didsbury and Chorlton in South Manchester - but at
      most that's going to knock a couple of percentage points off the proportion
      of car travel. Cars won't go away because they are so extremely useful to
      people. You even find some use for one yourself!

      You say "too many people own cars." Is that an elitist viewpoint? Do too
      many people own dishwashers or satellite TV receivers? Ownership of cars is
      not the same as using them, and in fact the rate of car ownership is lower
      in the UK than in many continental countries such as the Netherlands and
      Germany which are often held out on this group as examples of good transport
      practice.

      I've answered your final point by copying this to the urbancyclist list. If
      any readers feel this is drifting a little off-topic, then please blame
      Simon!

      Regards,

      Peter

      --
      "All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men do
      nothing"...Edmund Burke

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Simon Baddeley <s.j.baddeley@...>
      To: Peter Edwardson <peter@...>
      Date: 08 September 2001 10:00
      Subject: Re: [FWD: traffic safety -- risk taking - pondering "language"]


      >Yes but for me the key point is that I am not trying to restrict your
      >freedom for your own good (the compulsory cycle helmet issue) I am trying
      to
      >restrict your freedom for my good and my neighbour's good. The time to have
      >fun in cars on public roads is over, Peter.
      >
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