Letter: Bikes, walkers and cars claim right of way

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The Independent Online
Sir: Barrie Clement (" `Museum Alley' will allow cars and pedestrians to live together", 1 February) says that pedestrians "are to be given the right to walk [on roads] where they want, when they want". Pedestrians have had that right for centuries; it has been curtailed not by legislation but by motorists' belief that they take precedence over non-motorised highway users.

The "kerb-drill" we were taught has made us think we can drive oblivious to pedestrians, whose place is to stand obsequiously at the kerb nervously eyeing the traffic, scurrying furtively across like small prey when a gap occurs; and that it is a sin against creation for a walker to impede a motorist. It is to be hoped that the Exhibition Road experiment will go some way to correcting this.

We doubt it will, though. Our trunk roads are crossed on the level at hundreds of locations by lesser highways such as footpaths and bridleways, whose users are "protected" by "Pedestrians Crossing" signs. These make not the slightest impression on traffic speeds. Hope for improvement glimmered in 2000 when the Highways Agency promised pounds 250m for a programme of safer crossing-points. Then in 2004 they withdrew it; unfortunate, when 14 pedestrians die on our roads each week.


Director of Campaigns

The Ramblers' Association

London SE1