2:20pm Friday 6th November 2009
SIR — During that week when the traffic lights were not working in Winchester, I shared with others a most enlightening experience.
Waiting at the Southgate Street junction with the High Street, we watched the traffic filter through the junction at about 10mph.
The gentle ease with which the traffic flowed was almost hypnotic in its effect.
Those of us waiting to cross the road watched for a gap in the traffic, and in stately unhurried procession, we crossed the road to the pavement on the other side. The traffic made way for us.
This was an almost ‘out of world’ experience, for we pedestrians had reclaimed the street on behalf of the public.
When I read that the Hampshire Highways Authority were not thinking of any experiment to do away with the traffic lights because their first priority was the safety of pedestrians, I flatter them by calling such comments ‘pious humbug’.
When you see how traffic normally operates in Winchester when the lights are working, you experience speeds often in excess of 50mph, vehicles accelerating through red lights, honking horns and deadly exhaust fumes polluting the town centre.
The lights could be replaced by flashing beacons similar to the ones serving the Winchester College pupils in Southgate Street.
We have had a vision of a possible future and we must not let it go.
The Highways Authority should take account of what happens on the Continent where people have brought the car under control in their town centres, and the pedestrian rules.
We would all welcome a Highways Authority with a more open and flexible approach to traffic flows and pedestrian safety — but are we going to get it?
Alan G Weeks, Stanmore Lane, Winchester.
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