Tuesday, September 05, 2006

TfL Share The Roads - Will It Work?

"Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in London are all being encouraged to Share
the Road - the title of a new and ongoing Transport for London (TfL) campaign"
Source: TfL
"London's roads are crowded - we can behave like caged rats and fight with each other for space, or we can behave like human beings and cooperate with each other."

Source: Institute of Advanced Motorists

Will it work?

Asking people to change ingrained habitual behaviour, doesn't work:

  • UN: "Excuse me Iran, would you mind not making nuclear bombs please?" - pff!!!
  • Roads: "Drivers, please do not exceed the speed limit." - pff!!!
  • Health: "Chavs, kindly avoid binge drinking your own body weight in alcohol and beating each-other up every weekend" - pff!!!

Generally, the only way people change is if they have to.

The ambition to achieve a more considerate and co-operative road using population is very worthwhile pursuing. And I commend TfL for even attempting this almighty task.

To make a cultural shift in attitude does not happen by throwing up a few posters, sitting back and maintaining the status quo. There needs to be a "pull" factor - justification and selling the attractiveness of the idea, to motivate people towards the idea. AND there needs to be a "push" factor - enforcing and coercing those who are too lazy to change, are in a long-term rut of bad habit, or negatively want to see the idea fail.


To achieve change, there has to be friction, in this "Share The Roads" campaign, this necessary friction will have to come from enforcement and consequence. Fines, punishment, and educational sentencing (e.g. safety courses), will need to be the tools of this change, aimed at all offenders, regardless of their mode of transport.

Getting a message through to people these days is no easy mission, TfL's campaign will have to compete with the advertising giants, and all manner of media trying to tempt and woo consumers in to some product or other. Of which, us consumers have become increasingly resistant to, often filtering out the "white noise" of advertising because we've become sceptical of the whizz-bang claims and over-rated, misleading messages.

However TfL conduct this "pull" aspect of motivating road users to "buy-in-to" the share-the-roads idea, one question will have to be addressed in road-users minds: "Why should I?"

Digging Deeper

Camden Cyclists site hosts info of the same campaign name, and rooting around, mentions a quite substantial sum of £500,000 earmarked for this campaign. Now this is old data, and I don't know the accuracy of it, but I'd expect to see something special for that kind of dough!

Camden cyclists - share the road


Other ways to blow half a million £:

> Buy 3,000 new bikes and hand them out for free.
> Employ 240 coppers 24/7 for a month, to rugby-tackle red-light-jumping cyclists.
> Employ 1 million hippies to descend on London for a day and give everybody traffic-jam hugs.
> Give the money to me.
> Send it to Nigeria 'cos this email I got right, says I will get £4 billion back in to my bank account!
> Employ those Hare krishna geezers FOREVER! To spread good vibes by singing their mantra at all main road junctions in London.


Other linkies on this topic:
BBC News

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