Insanity Crash: Traffic Calming; what’s so calm about it?

The thought of suicide is a great source of comfort; with it a calm passage is to be made across many a bad night.
Friedrich Nietzsche quotes

Motorways, High Quality Dual Carriageways, Single Carriageways with Hard strips, crash barriers, speed cameras, signs and traffic light, roundabouts, flyovers and spaghetti junctions. The modern roadscape is a place a few decades ago we would have been locked up for expecting. Our roads have never been larger, or more filled, and almost every family that has the need for a car has one, and we are truly mobile. Our public transport services that use the roads are getting hundreds of thousands of pounds in government relief, with schemes aimed at getting us out of the car, but we are, like America, dependant on our own mobility.

All is not as good as it seems. With these high speed roads that link the cities, people have became used to going fast, and direct, ton where they want to go. With cars being larger, safer, and faster than ever before, our roads are struggling to cope with the increase in traffic, and in some circumstances, the roads simply buckle under the pressure of inter and intra town traffic. In the 60s, the plan was to build Motorways, these large, grey and blue vistas that were the future, building large straight lines of tarmac which cars can be thrown onto at speeds never before seen, and the beauty of a country finally linking for the first time in its history was a travel revolution. Then came the hangover. After all the fun of getting drunk on miles upon miles of road, built with million upon million of Sterling, the public suddenly had a knee jerk reaction – Not In My Back Yard! The Motorways stopped, half built, the dual carriageways became single carriageways, and the inner city streets…

Became mazes of bus lanes, one-way streets, pedestrian areas, and traffic calmed residential areas.

Some cities need a pedestrian area. Glasgow has only benefited from the extensive re building the grid system into a maze of one way streets and no car areas. The effect is that less cars enter the city, for fear of never leaving, spiralling into a circle of never ending one-way systems, where people grow old trying to figure out how to get to a street, or even just how to get to a car park. Aberdeen is worse for this – there is no real pedestrian area, and as such cars drive everywhere. But the problem that amounts to this is also that there is an overabundance of Bus Lanes, designed to help and encourage people to use buses. Seeing a bus flying along should make us envious of their working class passengers, but we are not.

We are mindfully vindictive.

As a car user, I hate the Bus Lane for two reasons. One, the road that is now bus lane was at some point in its life normal road, and I should and could be able to use it – it is lost capacity. And secondly, Taxis, which are the most useless of all public transport get to use them. They are no greener than me driving around in a car for 6 hours a day, eventually going nowhere. The fact they get to use these lanes is a travesty beyond comprehension.

And even still, the suburbs, which used to be a safe haven for short, easy journeys, has became an obstacle course of bollards, speed cameras and speed bumps. Speed bumps? The point, please. There is a speed limit, of 30, in most built up areas, and as we are told, its 30 for a reason. So why should there be blocks in the road that make us go slower than 30mph. My car takes them really badly. Is that a design fault with the car, or the road? I believe it is the road, as they are the upside down pot holes. Potholes can wreck your car, and so can a speed bump.

I really think traffic “calming” is a serious mistake. The amount of money spent on such schemes could have been better spent educating people on speed, and building safer roads in areas that matter. A person killing themselves on a national speed limit road in the country is more tragic than a knocked down person in the suburbs. Both parties are fault, the only difference is in the suburbs both parties can argue their case – the road in question might be the killer, but the driver gets the blame.