Online Archive  
Issue 5 - May 1972
Joke Traffic System
Have you seen the joke traffic system at the bottom of Gallow Gate and Percy Street in N/cle. I arrived back in fair Newcastle a fortnight ago after a two month stint in Southampton with the Ordnance Survey, to the sound of motor horns, and the sound of old ladies (and many others) if not actually being run down, certainly being narrowly missed. The whole arrangement is ludicrous, three traffic islands, God knows how many sets of traffic lights and white lines all over the place. The pedestrian has no idea whether the lights are against him or not. Even if they are not against him and he crosses he only gets as far as the middle before the traffic is whizzing by on both sides, leaving him stranded, probably scared out of his wits.

Why are the authorities in this country not taking note of the example of the American cities and learning by American mistakes? Why should people suffer the torture of carbon monoxide and other deadly gases given off in exhaust? Why should people look twice before crossing a road in a city, in a place built for the use of people not bloody automobiles!

Why can't we have free public transport in this day and age? A service which could easily be paid for with the £40,000,000 that N/cle are going to spend on Urban Motorways and the money that would be saved on all sorts of things like upkeep of roads, car parks, parking meters, traffic wardens, road accidents etc etc.

But the problem of the motor car is not limited to the towns. Unfortunately there is a stretch of road near where I am living that forms an exhaust trap, especially on warm afternoons. The exhaust that collects there is mainly from the buses that pull up outside the hospital. When they have dropped their load of people they fart viciously before they carry on their way.

Deadly exhaust fumes are due to the petrol engine. Why are there still no electric, or other forms of non-polluting engine on the market? Because the petrol companies have bought all rights to produce them? Or because the required speed of at least 70mph cannot be obtained? I suspect some of both.

I must admit that I am being hypocritical, because, although I do not own a car, I enjoy travelling by car as much as anyone else, and my conscience pricks me when I think that I am going to pollute a remote part of Derbyshire next weekend, with an A35. But if they had concentrated on non-polluting vehicles ten or twenty years ago, we would be travelling in an electric car, perhaps even at seventy miles per hour.

A few weeks ago when the Friends of the Earth had their national campaign, I came into contact with them for the first time. That was in Southampton. I was absolutely amazed to see that people were listening to what they were saying, reading their handouts, asking relative questions, and actually agreeing with what they were seeing and hearing! But the thing that perhaps surprised me the most was that they were people of all ages, i.e. not just younger people. If the Southampton effort was an example of the overall picture then there may be some hope for the world yet, but soon there will be a lost cause, it's sad.