Thursday, September 8, 2011

First impressions - after 3 days 'On the Road'

Visits to Winchester, Brighton and Portsmouth in my 1st three days in the UK have shown a few common threads.... [Pic: on-street cycle parking in central Brighton]
  1/. how much more safety-conscious in the cities people are here - all three have extensive areas of 20mph (=30kph) road speed zones in residential and central city commercial districts - something that is clearly widely bought into by the travelling public, with almost zero enforcement needed. Portsmouth - with 94% of the city covered by these slow speed zones - has recently turned off all their speed cameras, while the police are at the same time saying they don't have the resources to police the lower limits - BUT there is still no obvious speeding problem, and average speeds have dropped;
  2/. how the 1980s and 1990s privatisation of public transport has led to really high fares and an almost complete inability by local councils and communities to have any control over bus, rail and tram services, and their pricing. Already I'm hearing a common thread of complaints by staff and elected members in councils here about how difficult it is to plan for future land use and transport needs;
  3/. how much more cycling, and cycle facility provision, there is here - while the weather and traffic volumes are noticeably worse - I'll have to find out the secret of this!
  4/. How proud staff and Councillors have been about their transport initiatives, and how keen they have been to discuss them, and show them to me.

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