Kevin Drum links to this snip from London:
As a Californian he doesn´t seem able to place it in context. What you are seeing is a symbolically important victory for a fifty-year campaign in Europe to put cars in their place in towns. Milestones:
– 1963: Colin Buchanan publishes Traffic in Towns for the British government. Report ignored but taken up by Niek de Boer in the Netherlands
– 1969 City of Delft builds first woonerf (pl. woonerven; lit.¨living yard¨), an area with pedestrian priority and vehicles restricted to walking speed
– 1969 – 2008 Hans Monderman develops general shared space approach also covering busier streets, and implements it in Friesland province.
The revolution depends simply on recognising that different sorts of street-users should be treated with equal consideration. As soon as you look at it, the idea that streets belong to cars and buses and trucks, and pedestrians and cyclists should get out of the way, is essentially an Ancien Régime one: the seigneur on a horse is boss. This transforms straightforwardly to the prejudice that inner-city pedestrians on street corners in LA are poor, black, probably engaged in drug-dealing, soliciting, or just hanging about plotting their next delinquency, and should give way to richer whiter drivers.
Perhaps you make a rational utilitarian argument for the current car bias in road management. Help me out. At first sight, at Oxford Circus and many other busy urban intersections, there are almost always more pedestrians than people in vehicles, so pedestrians should get more of the scarce road time. (I know that the new Circus is technically a shared space but not a true woonerf, but I wanted to advertise this nice new word in the blog title.)
BTW, Westminster City Council – the body responsible for this scary socialist experiment – is Tory. In fact it´s one of the few London boroughs where one-party Tory control is secure enough to allow a nice corruption scandal, in 1986-89. These are more usually found in Labour fiefs.