Window on my world — 08 February 2011

“In towns we may need to start considering some radical schemes such as removing kerbs so there are more hazards – like pedestrians – around your car. Our research suggests that this might actually improve people’s driving.” Having written not one but two posts about the pedestrianisation of Exhibition Road where road planners intend to allow drivers and pedestrians to use ‘shared space’, I thought the topic was finally closed.

Until that is the findings of Newcastle University Researchers were published recently; who after questioning 1,563 drivers about their motoring style and personality believe removing kerbs could actually make driving safer.

They found that 31 per cent of drivers were easily bored and were more likely to seek excitement by taking driving risks, and they were prone to speeding or overtaking as they did not find the city roads taxing enough.

Of all those surveyed 35 per cent who were described as ‘enthusiastic’, found driving challenging – presumably trying to dodge pedestrians – or interesting and were less likely to have an accident. Other findings include 13 per cent found to be safe and slow, and a total of 21 per cent who were just plain slow through their dislike of driving.

Exhibition Road when finished will have pedestrians mixing with cars, the theory being both will be aware of each other – and that is the fatal flaw.

Fortuitously in the week these findings were published a video appeared on YouTube which rather illustrates my point, showing just how pedestrians with mobile phones can behave on London Streets.

This is Cathy Marrero, who walked into a mall fountain in Pennsylvania, while texting on her mobile phone. Now if you had fallen into a water feature you’d probably try to keep your dignity intact and retreat gracefully. But not our Cathy, she’s suing, because security staff could be heard laughing – in footage posted on YouTube – rather than helping her out, now the whole world know how stupid she is. “You need to see the serious side of it,” Marrero has said.” What if it was a senior citizen, would it be so funny then?” Absolutely, it would. Only had somebody drowned could it not be classed as comedy. Then it would be natural selection.

Texting while walking is a curse; people step out on to roads, collide with you in the street, obstruct your path by dawdling, all because they are engaged in banal dialogue with a person many miles away. I’m really looking forward to having the Cathy Marrero’s of this world using my ‘shared space’ along Exhibition Road.

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Gibson

(4) Readers Comments

  1. People who walk along peering at the screen of their mobiles certainly are a nuisance. I don’t mind them walking into lamp posts or falling into fountains but when they walk into me, then I get cross.
     
    However, mobiles are not the problem. They are merely one problem. People blind themselves just as effectively by reading newspapers or magazines when walking, or looking at something other than where they are walking.
     
    As regards mixing traffic and pedestrians, no, I don’t think so. It’s a very bad idea. I bet the bookies are already taking odds on the date of the first fatal accident in areas where this is planned.
     
    It is all the more ridiculous when there is an obvious solution which is far simpler and is absolutely guaranteed to stop collisions between pedestrians and vehicles: pedestrianize the streets of central London! Keep the vehicles out. Then they won’t run over anyone and they won’t be bothered by jay walkers.
     
    This measure is long overdue but governments keep wimping out. I cannot understand why traffic is still allowed to run through London as though the city were just a road to somewhere else. Or why cars (including taxis) are allowed to criss-cross areas where people congregate in large numbers for shopping and entertainment. It is ridiculous. Shut them out and have done with it.

    • Exhibition Road and Oxford Street should be given up to pedestrians it is the only sensible option

  2. Drives you up the wall, this lot, doesn’t it?
    However, coming from India jay walking is more of a norm there and honestly one has to drive very carefully. But nothing excuses texting, tweeting or juggling songs while on the road.

    • I have done the knowledge of All London, I don’t think I’ll be expanding to cover “All Mumbai” not with jugglers on every street!

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