A recent post called Rubbish and Graffiti by the Oxford Canal looked at the bridge which carries Frenchay Road across the Oxford Canal. Planners, developers, highways officers, British Waterways and the police have, by their acts or their omissions, turned this little stretch of canal into an urban pit of bad design, graffiti, notices, overflowing bins and general neglect.
I said in that context that it seemed that “a little man from Oxfordshire County Council goes down the pavements with a tape measure and fills every gap of more than a certain length with a pole and a notice”. Only two such notices are visible from the towpath, but this proves to be just a small selection.
You can see that the little man was a bit stuck for a suitable sign to put on the end of the bridge, but desperate to fill the space. “Pedestrians cross here” appears at first sight to be a statement of the obvious – pretty well everyone is cross at the mess made here by the various officious bodies.
It is, I suppose, not a statement, but an injunction, or at least a recommendation. Why do we need this? Anyone clever enough to read the notice can surely make up his or her own mind as to where to cross the road.
This is one of a nest of signs here. The priority sign is needed because the bridge was deliberately made too narrow for two vehicles – one of those “traffic calming” measures so beloved of highways officers, usually thrown as a sop to people who need something to “demand” but are not sure what. Observation shows that a narrowed street does nothing to slow the traffic, merely increases the risk of a head-on collision. We have this sodding great bridge anyway – why not use it?
The upshot is unsatisfactory for both drivers and pedestrians. The County Council highways officers had a free hand here to make this bridge as they wanted it – and ended up needing to put up a notice to tell pedestrians where to walk.
Think of the thickest person you know. Would you ask his advice as to where to cross the road?