Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Abbey Road Zebra Crossing Listed

The iconic zebra crossing in Abbey Road,  has been listed, which should protect it from transport officials like those in TfL, who don't like the idea of pedestrians getting in the way of motor vehicles, wish they would get a bloody move on, and would really prefer if they didn't cross the road at all.

This is just in time, because councillors wanted to move the crossing, made famous by the Beatles, claiming that "tourists flocking to be snapped on the road are causing crashes". Councillors Lindsey Hall and Judith Warner (both Conservative) should read their Highway Code. In it, they'll find this:

"Zebra crossings. As you approach a zebra crossing
  • look out for pedestrians waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop to let them cross
  • you MUST give way when a pedestrian has moved onto a crossing
  • allow more time for stopping on wet or icy roads
  • do not wave or use your horn to invite pedestrians across; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching
  • be aware of pedestrians approaching from the side of the crossing"
 In other words, it's not the tourists causing the crashes, it's drivers failing to observe the Highway Code, which is after all the law of the land. Rather disappointing that our elected representatives have such a weak grasp of the laws they're supposed to be helping to uphold. Maybe they should request a clampdown on dangerous driving at this location rather than trying to suppress tourism, but that's a big ask of car-obsessed Westminster Council.

Unfortunately, the attitude that zebra crossings are A Bad Thing has caught on in highway engineering circles. Zebra crossings give pedestrians right of way, make drivers liable in most cases in the event of a crash and aid pedestrians' passage at the expense of motor vehicle flow. That's why they need to be replaced by "Pedestrian Refuges" which do very little to help pedestrians cross, and are dangerous for children. They are especially dangerous for cyclists, because they cause a pinch point where if you're too far to the left an impatient motorist will cut you up in a botched and ill-judged overtake, or if you're brave enough to 'take the lane', you're in danger of getting honked at and verbally abused if the driver behind has seen you, or rear-ended if they haven't (your fault: you should've been wearing a high-viz jacket you irresponsible fool).

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