Saturday, 8 September 2012

Crap journalism

Chris Gittins, from Streets Alive, a group promoting street sociability… says it is impractical to change the physical structure of our environment, so we should focus on changing our social habits. 

According to urban planner Garry Hall from TransForm Places, since the 1960s there has been a land-grab, with roads now the preserve of drivers. He would like us to follow the Netherlands' example where there are playgrounds on traffic islands. Nuts? 

Well, maybe. According to research by motoring organisation the AA. fewer children are killed or seriously injured by vehicles in the UK than over there. 

Where to begin?

Streets Alive seems to promote street parties. Its most radical infrastructural policy is 20 mph zones. The problem with the “Twenties plenty” policy is that in isolation it does nothing at all to reduce on-street car parking or rat-running.

As for TransForm Places. My anti-virus software shrieked that if I clicked on this site I’d risk downloading a Trojan. So I declined to do so. But one wonders where Garry Hall has actually been to in the Netherlands. The notion that the Dutch put children’s playgrounds on traffic islands is, well, nuts. Or to put it another way: bollocks, bullshit, and complete crap.

As for the suggestion that Dutch children are suffering genocide at the hands of drivers, whereas in Britain the kids are safe as houses. I mean WTF? Can we have some hard statistics please, as opposed to bland journalistic generalisations?

Great caution is required when comparing national road casualty statistics, as is demonstrated here. Far more old people die on bicycles in the Netherlands than in the UK, entirely because large numbers of elderly people cycle over there, whereas in the UK very few people over 60 cycle. In the Netherlands they bike till they drop; in the UK octogenarian and nonagenarian drivers are regularly involved in road crashes, and the only person required to certify fitness to drive is the drooling, stroke-paralysed, half-blind geriatric petrol addict. There is more about Dutch casualty figures here and here.