Friday, November 30, 2007

What is the problem with level crossings?

The Richmond and Twickenham Times seem to think it's bad driving: Natalie Fay reports a case where a driver sped to cross, hit a barrier.

Although I don't think driving standards are improving, the root of the proble is also to be sought in the frustration caused by gridlock. The Local and Central Governments want us to believe that congestion is just caused by the increase in the number of cars. They seem to forget that they haven't invested much in the road network in the past years, hence the RAD calling to Build More Roads.

It's quite strange that two simlilar situation produce different reactions from the same civil servants: one one hand roads, on the other air travel. The response to the latter issue is unabated airport expansion. They just forget that we need to get to the airport in the first place...

Another issue is more local: the concils, under residents pressure, are turning more streets into cul de sacs and making junctions more awkward in the name of safety. In Richmond for instance they've narrowed the A205/Clifford avenue at Chalkers corner and put bollards onto Church road at the Kew road traffic lights. As a result, in both cases what was two lanes is now 1.5 and traffic builds up because less cars can go through at one green light. If only they had built decent, segregated cycle lanes, with their own lights. But no, they spent money just doing it slightly worse -just like they will do in George Street.

Anyway, back to the level crossings: the problem isn't drivers. The problem IS their very existence: rail level crossings in urban areas are a dangerous anachronism.

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