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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Road Calming...


What’s all this road calming nonsense about? The truth is nobody knows, it’s just one of those mad mad things. Councils get a bee in their bonnet about speeding drivers and road safety and parking issues. And, in all fairness to them, so they should! The problem is of course, what to do about these issues and how to keep everybody happy, not least central government, who may well whip away significant amounts of funding from local authorities if they aren’t seen to be doing something. In Manchester, the roads are terrible, they always have been and they probably always will be. We used to complain about the poor state of the roads (and pavements) because of the potholes and we still do. However, we now also have to contend with these stupid irrational so called speed bumps and other road calming measures. Recently, the powers that be have started to apply their tar macadam humps to bus routes? How mad is that? The bus routes are also the main roads and therefore the access avenue for the fire, police and ambulance services. I recently watched the TV documentary about the paramedics in Liverpool, who may I add do a fine job. The disturbing thing on the programme was when they were rushing a pregnant woman to hospital, she and her unborn baby felt every speed bump that the ambulance hit.

In Manchester and some other places the solution to the problem could be as simple as burning off the existing asphalt surface to reveal the beautiful cobble style stones beneath. (I say cobble style, because I’ve been informed that they’re actually called setts) In doing this of course the original tram lines will also be uncovered and with a bit of ingenuity applied maybe we could actually see some trams on the streets in the areas where they are needed rather than the hair brained scheme that presently exists.

Just as an aside, I’ll explain that we’ve got three Metrolink tram routes in Manchester, all of them go to places they don’t need to go to. The Altrincham line pre-existed as a very busy suburban railway link. The Bury line also pre-existed, as I think, the only third rail line in Manchester. The Eccles line, the most recent addition to the system, does have some good points, in that it will serve Cornbrook and Pomona if any development ever takes place there and it does enable some of the good people from Ordsall to take the tram with the gentry from neighbouring Salford Quays. The wisdom of continuing it any further in the Eccles direction escapes me, as Eccles already has a railway line running straight through it.

Anyway, back to the road calming bit, thinking about it actually, the answer to the road calming equation would be to re-introduce the street trams we had up till 1949. you don’t see speed bumps in Market street do you? You don’t need them with all those tram tracks coming out of Piccadilly! In conclusion my unwanted/unasked for advice to local councils and to Manchester in particular is to reveal the cobbles and re-introduce street trams. But, will they listen?

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