Newcastle Station Clock

Newcastle Station Clock

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Time for Less Chaos on Britains Pavements

The Highway Code for Drivers and Riders recommends that whilst moving "you should keep to the left" (rule 160), and also "only overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right"(rule 163).

However the Highway Code recommends nothing like this for pedestrians, the most advice given is basically the same as the message given by the singing hedgehogs. Now I reckon this is the cause of the problem. (The problem being that when you walk down a busy street it's inevitable that you will be bumped, jostled and generally pushed around). The pavement has no system to avoid head on collisions, so I would like a brief indulgence away from architecture and into town planning.
I think it's obvious where this is going and what I'm about to propose.

If the pavements where split into two lanes, one for each direction of travel as with the road, thus dramatically reducing bumps, jostles and general pushing around and the resulting fatalities. Now you make think this a bit extreme and authoritarian, but when applied to the wider context it makes increasing sense.

The pedestrianised high street of any town or city can be mayhem, especially at the weekend. People walking against each other, walking slowly, walking fast, stopping, cutting across, our high streets are chaos. On the road we have dual carriageways and motorway for congested routes akin to the high street, so we apply this methodology to the high street. On dual carriageways the Highway Code states "you should stay in the left-hand lane. Use the right-hand lane for overtaking or turning right. After overtaking, move back to the left-hand lane when it is safe to do so." (rule 137) Why can't the high street be split up with slower lanes for those who walk slowly and lanes for those in a rush to pass them. No more will the elderly be mowed down by late business men rushing to a meeting. And for those who like to indulge in a bit of window shopping, why not have crawler lanes, jostle free browsing will no longer be a dream.

Naturally there will be a financial impact for implementing this to our townscapes, but this will be made up for by the savings the NHS will make on plastic surgery to broken noses. Now obviously I'm not suggesting that we role this scheme out on all of Britain's streets, there's a lot of them (I can't find a figure for this but I have it on good authority there's a lot of them). A very similar system is already in operation on the escalators of the Tyne and Wear Metro system where those wishing to stand all stand on one side allows people to walk past them easily, this works very well and is enforced by the very British 'tutting' system at anyone who does not comply. The next stage should be shopping centres, the worst offenders then eventually the whole country.

One can only hope that someone from the Department of Transport is reading this.

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