There’s a problem on the Superhighway in central London.
Users are dodging the infrastructure that was created specifically from them (and to keep them safe), simply in order to avoid traffic lights. It’s an all too common problem – should we even allow these people to do this? Do we need to pass a new law to force them to use their own infrastructure?
You won’t need me to tell you that I am of course talking about walkists. Or – to use the more conventional term – ‘pedestrians‘.
Near the Charing Cross bridge, the Walking Superfootway that runs along the Embankment – created specifically for pedestrians, and at great expense – crosses from the Thames side of the road, over to the pavement on the other side of the road. There’s even a detailed plan showing pedestrians exactly how this works. (So there’s no excuse for them not to use it).
Pedestrians should simply follow the yellow line, using the three pedestrian crossings – built specifically for them, for their own safety – to cross the road on one side, before using three pedestrian crossings to cross back again. Simple! They only have to wait several minutes to do so, hardly a great inconvenience compared to just walking along the river without any delay at all.
Yet despite this clear, obvious route for pedestrians to follow, many of them simply refuse to use the walking infrastructure provided for them, and instead choose to dangerously mix with cycling, on the cycle road.
What is wrong with these pedestrians?
Some people have argued that they are dodging the infrastructure built specifically for them because they want to avoid a lengthy series of traffic lights and a route that takes them out of their way.
But that can’t possibly be the explanation. These people are simply irrational. Either that, or they are making some kind of point – they’re militant, self-righteous pedestrians, deliberately trying to hold up cycle traffic, instead of using the perfectly good walking path that has been provided for them. Specifically. And at great expense.
Now here’s the thing. In an intriguing parallel, it seems that cyclists themselves are also dodging the infrastructure built for them at great expense – a Cycling Superhighway, if you will – simply in order to avoid some traffic lights. Just like the militant walkists.
Again, these people must be simply irrational. Or if not, they are self-righteous, militant cyclists, making some point or other, or deliberately holding up motor traffic because they derive some sadistic kind of personal satisfaction from doing so.
Clearly, the only way to deal with these problem walkists and cyclists is to pass a law to force them to behave rationally, instead of irrationally.
What we definitely shouldn’t do is –
- attempt to understand their behaviour;
- talk to them about what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it, to facilitate that understanding;
- design our road environments so that convenience and safety is aligned, rather than forcing people to make a choice between convenience and safety.
All that would far too longwinded and time-consuming. Much, much easier to just create a new law to force all these irrational human beings to behave in the ways we want them to behave!
…. Naturally if Lord Adonis does want to talk to me about understanding behaviour and responding to it in a productive way, I’m more than happy to engage with him!