X-post: traffic safety -- risk taking - pondering "language"
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
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
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
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.
----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Edwardson <peter@...>
To: Simon Baddeley <s.j.baddeley@...>
Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2001 6:42 PM
Subject: RE: urbancyclist-uk: [FWD: traffic safety -- risk taking -
From the urbancyclist-uk e-mail list
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
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
"All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men do
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
>restrict your freedom for my good and my neighbour's good. The time to have
>fun in cars on public roads is over, Peter.