What if we’d never built pavements?

Wholly and totally copied word for word from this blog post but illustrates, I think, the level of persuasion we need, as cycle campaigners, to somehow justify good cycle infrastructure that just seems common sense in places like the Netherlands (and even Cambridge).

Let the craziness begin:

Pedestrians have to walk on the road, and are expected to follow the appropriate rules and laws.

Hardy joggers and runners regularly take to the roads to get exercise, and have developed good stamina for keeping up with traffic. They know how to run and walk around lorries and fast cars. Many of them wear helmets and hi-visibility outfits.

Despite this, many pedestrians are killed or injured as they walk or run.

Walking and running are largely regarded as sports. Certainly, the main group of people who regularly walk or run are sports people out in training, or keeping fit.

But a small number of people take to the roads just to get to the shops, or even just for fun. They walk, rather than run, and are seen as a complete hazard on the roads by most drivers. They don’t always wear hi-visibility outfits, and some don’t even wear helmets.

There are calls for pedestrians to be better regulated. Most road users have to have insurance and a licence to use the road. But pedestrians can just take to the road without any training or insurance. Accidents involving pedestrians often cost drivers a fair amount, and many question why pedestrians should get away with this scot-free.

Campaign groups such as “Pedestrians On Parliament” start to spring up, calling for segregated infrastructure for pedestrians. They point out that in the Netherlands they’ve spent decades building “pavements” and people can now walk around safely. People walk to the shops, to work, and just for fun. Many even walk home from the pub!

But many drivers are shocked by this. They complain that there are already pedestrians who don’t wear helmets or indicate correctly when walking or running. Allowing them to get drunk and then walk would be crazy, they insist. Until they can learn to behave better on the road, why should “pavements” be built for them?

And many of the more experienced road runners also object to these ideas. They point out that as long as you train hard enough and keep alert, traffic isn’t that dangerous for pedestrians.

This division amongst the pedestrian activists allows most councils to ignore these calls for better pedestrian infrastructure. They do sometimes build small sections, merging back into the road sometimes, and these aren’t well used. People who can already run in traffic ignore these sections, and people who don’t want to run in traffic don’t use them because of the on-road parts…

 

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