Thursday 22 August 2013

Crazy Bloody Pedestrians

So I was wondering the other day what the world would be like if we'd never gotten round to building pavements...

(cue wavy pattern as we transition to the parallel world...)

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...

(cue wavy pattern as we transition back home)

Thankfully this is just a crazy dream...


  1. Hear hear. Let's not mention the "pedestrian tax" lobbies that may or may not fund pot holes! Very good follow-up here:

  2. Brilliant post! This analogy 'has legs', as it were.

    The experienced road runners see pavements as a threat to their 'right to run'. Their main campaigning organisation (which rejected offers of pavements on new build roads in the 1930s) thinks that building town centre pavements will mean giving up their right to run down roads such as the A50 dual carriageway (which links the M1 to M6). They think the only reason that the A50 isn't full of children running to school is because the children lack training and therefore confidence. They've launched a 'Walkability' program and are promoting it in schools...