Walking could get more dangerous!

Walking could get more dangerous!

Going for a pleasurable walk or stroll should NOT be frought with danger and yet should our bureaucrats see fit to mirror what has happened in China, the laying of a special “pedestrian texting lane”, the quantity of recorded “incidents” occurring on pavements will rapidly increase.

By constructing what has become the world’s first permanent walkway for “texters” the Chinese have implemented something that other town and city elders could easily see fit to follow.

In creating a special path so that texters are separated from other pedestrians could be exactly the sort of daft idea our “Mandarins at Whitehall” might latch onto, all in the name of better fitness or Health and Safety legislation.

The truth of the matter is that it is a ridiculous idea and especially at a time when the population, in terms of age, is increasing year on year!

Yet although evermore retired people want to walk it could take just one local or regional official or a law maker at Whitehall to push forward an idea that could bring a flood of others following like lemmings.

mobile phone holdingHaving witnessed recent nonsenses from Whitehall to back up the so-called “green agenda” – uneconomic wind farms on and off shore (some have even fallen over); the closure of coal fired power stations at a time when the  nuclear alternative is still unclear leaving us all to face a real possibility of power cuts at peak times; and most recently an admittance by government it has failed to curb those local authorities refusing to restore weekly refuge collections; a new path for manual texters might easily be seen as a way of spending money.

The concept of a new path specifically for those wishing to text manually as they walk along makes it perilous for other pedestrians.

In Washington DC they constructed a temporary walkway along the lines of the Chinese pavement as a publicity stunt in July 2013, yet no-one thought to analyse the  number of pavement incidents as a result of the stunt.

From my considerable experience of dealing with Whitehall officials over the last twenty years, on behalf of the Federation of Small Businesses, Parliament would be likely to back any such scheme with taxpayers’ money, provided matched funding/grants were available from the private sector, to appease the so-called “Green Lobbyists” or the “Health and Safety” brigade.


Texting in traffic

The thousands of miles of dedicated cycle paths and lanes around the UK have cost taxpayers £billions, without any independent analysis to prove a “real need”.

The resulting loss of road lanes and pavement width created more rather than less danger and it comes as no surprise to learn that official statistics now prove there are 24,000 incidents and casualties involving pedestrians every year.

With no analysis of the – why or how or need – incidents might increase substantially if texters were allowed to walk in isolation along  special paths constructed alongside normal pavements or cycle lanes.

Casual walkers and joggers would obviously be more vulnerable to an “incident” which may be why the Chinese have had to paint text-like characters and directional arrows on their new path in the hope it assists others not to inadvertantly stray from their designated lane. The painted markings are of course useless to the visually impaired or blind people.

Finally it may be worth pointing out that the path in China has been constructed alongside an existing cycle lane, so that now even motorists are involved – why? – because having parked their car at the kerbside they have to cross the cycle lane before reaching the safety of the pedestrian pavement.

In appreciating it could take just one over zealous official with Highways responsibility to become convinced this is a good way forward, I hope the newly empowered Local Community Partnerships will keep a watch and should any such idea occur in their area, throttle it at birth!

by Ian Handford,
former National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)


Featured image courtesy of Duncan Harris at www.wikimedia.org

Texting in traffic courtesy of Mo Riza at www.flickr.com