Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Essex Institute of Advanced Motorists

I spent yesterday evening with the Essex Institute of Advanced Motorists, a group of around fifty people from different walks of life, meeting at the Chigwell Police Social Club. Generally, they were happy to see the change of mayor although they did praise Ken for introducing the Oystercard.

Like the mayor, they are enthusiastic about improving traffic flows in London, with a lot of support for removing unnecessary pedestrian phases and shortening the time that traffic lights spend on red. They were not keen on road humps and speed tables, which punish good and bad drivers, preferring speed cameras and police patrols to target the truly dangerous individuals. Public policies which led to the needless removal of road space were condemned.

The audience also felt that driving tests should be tightened up to ensure that all the rules of the road were obeyed. There was an interesting suggestion that drivers should be retested at regular intervals if they wished to retain their licences. Lack of courtesy to other drivers - dipping headlights at night for example - was seen as an increasing problem. Although I have not driven for nearly two years I can see what they mean, with examples of inconsiderate and aggressive driving becoming all too common.

There was considerable irritation with local councils who did not do enough to maintain the roads and clear the drains but were all too enthusiastic when it came to road markings, humps and excess signage. The exception was the recent space sharing work done in High Street Kensington, and they awaited the similar proposals for Exhibition Road with interest. Daniel Moylan should be pleased that his fame has spread this far east. They were also pleased to see the back of junction blocking bendy buses.

And they had plenty of ideas for improvement of traffic management, including more use of flashing amber phases, visible countdowns to traffic signal changes (used in Romania) and allowing left turns during red phases - as discussed in the previous post.

All in all it was an enjoyable evening with a well informed group of enthusiasts, including many women. Some of them want to see Mayor's Question Time and I look forward to welcoming them to City Hall.

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