This site is not intended to personally insult those who work at the UK’s Department for Transport or other transport authorities, though it is intended to prod them, criticise them, and make them think about what it is they are doing.
They draw up lots of rules which means that the UK’s roads are pretty much uniform wherever you go. They draw up nice diagrams set in some kind of 1950s Peter & Jane book, where drivers follow all the rules all the time, and everyone is nice to each other and gets home for tea safely. If only the world really was like this!
Unfortunately, something goes wrong somewhere in the transition from fantasy perfect rule-world to the gritty urban streets we live on. Rules are ignored, not just by road users but also by road designers, engineers, installers, local councils, etc. Why does this happen? Can the UK’s street-designer’s rule-book be modified or improved?
We’ve got low road casualty rates in the UK but at great cost – our freedom. Children aren’t allowed to play in residential streets because they’re used as rat-runs; asthma and other respiratory illnesses are on the rise; and maybe the increase in obesity has something to do with successive governments promotion of the private car above all other forms of transport?
This isn’t an anti-car blog, or an anti-taxi blog, or an anti-DfT blog. I should wear my heart on my sleeve and say that the DfT should wipe their hard drives and copy whatever their equivalent in the Netherlands is doing. They have an even lower road accident rate than the UK, and also have the happiest, healthiest children in the developed world (the UK is at the bottom), and strange as it seems, it has a lot to do with the way their towns and cities are arranged.
I am not a cyclist, I am a free man!
I am not a cyclist, but I do sometimes ride a bike.
Nor am I a motorist, but I do sometimes drive a van.
Nor am I a pedestrian, though I frequently walk.
I am not a train-spotter or a bus enthusiast, but I often use public transport.
I am a reasonable man, I do not define myself by the transport I use.
I can see that the bicycle — in its sensible, practical common Dutch form rather than the usual British sporting equipment — is a much misunderstood tool in the UK.
I can see that it presents a solution, or is part of a solution, to many modern day ills: alzheimers, dementia, obesity, heart disease, asthma. Traffic congestion, the school run, horrible high-streets, fuel costs.
And I can see that everyone can benefit from better streets and roads: Parents and children, students, workers, people with disabilities, the elderly.
(There is more to say but I’ll finish this later. – 19th January 2013)