§ 11 p.m.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying that the Regulations made by the Minister of Transport under Section 10 (7) of the London Traffic Act, 1924, entitled the London Traffic (Pedestrian Crossing Places) Provisional Regulations, 1934, be annulled.Before proceeding with this Motion, I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it would be possible to take at the same time the Motion standing next on the Paper in the name of my hon. Friend and myself—That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying that the Regulations made by the Minister of Transport under Section 111 (1) of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, entitled the Traffic Signs (Pedestrian Crossings) Provisional Regulations, 1934, be annulled"—as they really deal with the same point. The first Motion deals with the Regulations themselves and the second with the marking of the patterns on the roadway.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am in the hands of the House. If the House would prefer to deal with the two Motions at the same time, I am agreeable.
§ Sir W. BRASS
I bring forward this Motion in no spirit of hostility to my hon. Friend the Minister Transport. I do so in order that he may have an opportunity of clarifying the position with regard to the pedestrian crossings which are being laid down on the streets of London. I am sure that he is most anxious, as are all Members of the House, that the experiment which is being made in London should be a success because, on the success of this experiment, depends the experiments which are to be made later in all built-up areas in the country. Before I deal with the Regulations themselves I wish to make a criticism and to 1264 ask the Minister a question. I notice that these regulations are provisional and if we examine them we find these words.The Minister of Transport in exercise of the powers conferred upon him certifies under Section 2 of the Rules Publication Act of 1893 that on account of urgency such Regulations should come into force forthwith as provisional Regulations.I wish to ask my hon. Friend whether it was necessary to make these provisional Regulations, instead of making them ordinary statutory Regulations to come into force, after having been placed on the Table of the House. These Regulations came into force on 11th June and ware not laid until 14th June. I contend that if the House had had an opportunity of discussing these Regulations before they were brought into operation and before the marking of the crossing-places in London, it might have saved a good deal of the muddle which has resulted since. For that reason, I would like to know why it was thought necessary to do this in such a hurry, especially as the question of pedestrian crossings had been under consideration for some months before they were introduced under these Regulations. This matter was brought to the notice of the Ministry of Transport some four years ago by means of photographs which I sent from Paris at that time. When one looks at the Regulations themselves one finds that the first Regulation states:It shall be the duty of a driver turning into a road. … if necessary to stop so as to allow free passage to every pedestrian who is crossing the carriage-way at such crossing places.That is the obligation on the driver, if he is turning into a road. Later on we find the obligation on the pedestrian is as follows:It shall be the duty of every pedestrian not to hinder or obstruct the free passage of any vehicle proceeding in the general line of traffic.Later it states:A vehicle turning from one road into another shall in no case be deemed to be in the general line of traffic.I want to take a few examples to show, if I can, that these regulations create a certain amount of confusion in the minds both of the, drivers and of the pedestrians in London. First, I will take the example of the end of Bond Street, where it enters Piccadilly. There is there a light con- 1265 troll for the traffic, and there is also a pedestrian crossing. Sometimes the light control allows the traffic to go from Piccadilly at right angles into Bond Street, with the light turned green. This traffic is not going in a straight line, but turning at right angles, according to the second part of the regulations. Consequently, a pedestrian on the pedestrian path across Bond Street should have the right of way there, and if he liked to stand in the middle of the road, he could stop the traffic, which was in fact doing what it ought to do, namely, going up Bond Street, according to the green light which was exhibited, showing a right of way.
The same thing applies in Duke Street, Piccadilly. There, again, there is a light control, and the traffic cannot go straight out of Duke Street, but must either turn to the right or to the left into Piccadilly. Consequently, when the light turns green, so that traffic can come out of Duke Street into Piccadilly or from Piccadilly into Duke Street, the pedestrian would have the right of way, and that would create confusion again. Another example, which is one where there is a police control instead of a light control, is at the top of the Hay-market. There the traffic travels from Piccadilly Circus down the Haymarket at right angles, and at the top of the Haymarket there is a pedestrian crossing. According to the regulations, pedestrians would have a complete right of way there, because the traffic is turning at right angles, and they could stop the flow of traffic down there as a result, if they insisted, which they do not, I am glad to say, on the rights laid down in these regulations.
I bring those three examples forward to show that confusion is bound to exist in the minds of both pedestrians and drivers, because they do not know whether or not they have a right of way. The result is considerable confusion at these places, and I want to urge upon my hon. Friend that he should follow the example of the system which has been adopted for many years in Paris. That system is simplicity itself. Every pedestrian crossing in Paris is a right of way to the pedestrian. It is a pedestrian's sanctuary, and if anybody is touched in one of those sanctuaries by the driver of a vehicle, the driver is to blame, and there is no question of 1266 whether the vehicle was turning at right angles or whether the traffic was going straight on. I urge most sincerely that my hon. Friend should follow that very simple rule for London and that every pedestrian crossing in London should in future be made a right of way for pedestrians, so that both drivers and pedestrians would know exactly where they were. If that were done it would be much more easily understood.
The suggestion has been made to me that, if this principle were adopted, it would hold up the traffic. I can assure the House that that is not the case in Paris. What happens is this. The driver goes up to the pedestrian crossing. If there is anybody on the crossing, he waits until the pedestrian has moved. He then drives on. He does not wait until the next person comes to the crossing, and if there is a vehicle behind him it follows, and the next pedestrian waits until there is an opening in the traffic, when he takes the opportunity of going across. Then the traffic takes the opportunity of going across when the pedestrian is not there. It is a perfectly simple system and works admirably. I would suggest that that system should be adopted here and at "the important crossings where there is a great deal of pedestrian traffic I would suggest that they should only be placed where there is a police control. That is what happens in Paris. The police control is put on the crossings where there is a density of pedestrian traffic, and the police not only control the vehicular traffic, but the pedestrian traffic as well. After the peak period has disappeared later in the day, the policeman moves from that particular point, and once again the pedestrian crossing is a right of way to the pedestrians, and he can cross there in perfect safety. It is a simple system. I would point out that in Paris there are very few light controls, and they are not automatic. They have not the red, green and yellow lights. They are controlled by the police, who ring a bell, and a red light comes on; when the traffic stops. The police are on these crossings and control both the pedestrian and the vehicular traffic.
I should like to refer to the design which my hon Friend has chosen for these crossings. Apart from the joy which they impart to children in using 1267 them as "hop-scotch" lines, painted paths across the roads are not nearly so easily visible as domed studs which are used in Paris. The reason is that the domed studs are more easily seen at a distance. They are slightly raised above the surface of the road and may be seen several hundred yards away. That is not the case with the white lines, which can only be seen when the vehicle has almost got up to the crossing. I have driven a great deal in Paris, and I consider the studded path is much superior to the herring-bone crossings which we have here.
I appeal to the Minister to reconsider the regulation with regard to the sign with a large "C" on it. It is suggested that at every crossing which is a right of way there should be a post on the pavement with a "C" on it of certain dimensions in blue and white or red and white. That is a complication which is entirely unnecessary and will increase the cost enormously. The success of the pedestrian crossings in Paris is due to the fact that there are literally thousands of them. There are 10,000 of these crossings in Paris. If we put up a post with a "C." on it—rather like the "Please cross here" notices which we see now with the paint disappearing from them—the expense will be too heavy, and instead of having a large number of crossings, which would mean the saving of lives, we shall have only a few, and the experiment will not be a success.
I think the cost of these safety crossings ought not to be borne by the local authorities, because, if so, there is likely to be a squabble, on account of the expense, over whether they should be provided or not; and as I am convinced that these crossings will save a very large number of lives all over the country I would urge upon my hon. Friend, if he can possibly arrange it, that all these crossings should be made at the expense of the Road Fund. Then the local authorities will have no excuse for inaction on the score of expense. I hope the Minister will be able to give me a satisfactory answer on the points I have put forward.
§ 11.18 p.m.
§ Captain STRICKLAND
It is with some feeling of confidence that I rise to support the Prayer presented by my 1268 hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass). When attempting a new scheme which is to secure the greater safety of pedestrians, and is also for the comfort of motor drivers, there are one or two essential things to be borne in mind. The first is that the scheme must be a simple one, and the second point is that the provisions of it should be readily understood and widely known among those people who have the fortune or misfortune to go through our streets. I suggest that the present Regulations do not embody either of those elementary principles, which should recommend themselves to anyone who is desirous of making our roads as safe as possible. Take the question of simplicity as applied to the idea put forward by the Minister of Transport. White lines have been adopted in this country for many purposes. They are a familiar object to the great majority of road users. It seems to me that if we want a scheme which shall arrest attention it must be of a more startling nature than white lines painted on the road. I cannot understand why the scheme which has been tried and found good in every respect in the busy streets of Paris should not have received more sympathetic attention. We were told a day or two ago, in a somewhat light-hearted manner, that the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Transport would welcome the chance of going to Paris with the Minister of Transport in order to study the scheme there, from which one must gather that there has been no effort on the part of the Minister to see the system in operation in Paris. I have recently walked across various busy crossings in Paris with perfect safety, and I saw aged and infirm people step with complete confidence from the pavement and make their way across; crowded roads in that city. I saw motorists come along the roads with a full and perfect knowledge, because of the visibility of the scheme, of what they were likely to meet. As they went along, the white metal studs shone conspicuously along the highway for many crossings-ahead, and every motorist, when he saw them across the road, knew quite well the type of danger that he was approaching. The principle is simple.
The second point is that the whole London scheme appears to have been planted on the public at exceedingly short 1269 notice which gave no possibility of advertising its purpose. People woke up one morning and found our streets with herring-bone patterns on them, land they little understood them. Perhaps it was the fault of their not reading their newspapers. Already in many parts, notably one that I cross a good deal myself at the top of Victoria Street, the white lines are almost invisible. When you look at them from the pavement they are practically worn through. The scheme is cumbersome, it lacks simplicity, and it certainly lacked advertisement. If you want to launch anything on the public, you have to adopt somewhat startling methods. The Minister would be well advised to give further consideration to the scheme which he has brought forward. He knows quite well, and so do we, that the real intention and purpose in his mind is a determination to make our roads safe. Every motorist desires that and so do the pedestrians, who also desire to be secured against the appalling loss of life in our streets. These regulations do not effect the purpose of any of those three great bodies of opinion, and it would be well if the Minister brought in something much bolder than he has done up to the present. He should inform the House why it is that a scheme which has been proved efficacious and beneficial with the public of Paris cannot be considered for London.
§ 11.24 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
I know that Prayers are very unpopular so late at night, but I and other Members have a grievance with regard to the white lines. Many of us have spent hours upstairs considering a miserable Measure called the "Road Traffic Bill," which is of very little value to anyone. The one bright spot in it was the possibility of adopting the French scheme of safety crossings for pedestrians and introducing it into the Bill. That gave a hope of being able to control traffic speed in London at the crossings and at all the dangerous places in the crowded streets, but the vision of that scheme being a success seems to have evaporated because the Ministry introduced the present scheme in the most difficult way. After all, many intelligent Londoners do not understand, and I do not believe that even people in this House understand, what is the right way of dealing with these crossings and what is the wrong. 1270 If we, who legislate for the people of England, do not know, how is the ordinary man in the street to know whether he is doing right or whether he is in danger of being run over?
I associate myself with the Prayer, and hope that the Minister will pocket his pride and start again, putting down his crossings on perfectly simple roads and laying it down that anybody walking on the white line must be respected by all motorists. At present you do not know whether you are going to be run into or not, and, if a scheme is started with that handicap, I think that it is prejudiced against being an eventual success. Some of us who, as I have said, wasted our time in the Committee upstairs, did hope that the introduction of these crossings would really be a life-saving proposition, but it has already, by slovenly administration, been discredited, and I think it is going to be difficult to make it a success. I shall listen with great attention to what the Minister has to say.
§ 11.27 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Oliver Stanley)
One morning last week, when I opened the particular paper which tells me every morning what has happened during the last 24 hours, I read in the headlines:Pedestrian Crossings to Go.As I thought that probably I should be the first to know if they were to go, I looked to see on what this statement was based, and I found that it was based on these Prayers which have been moved to-night. I think that that particular paper entirely misunderstood the intention in the minds of my hon. Friends. I do not think that either those who have put their names to these Prayers or anyone else in the House desires to see these pedestrian crossings go, but that the object of the discussion which has been initiated is to try to improve the prospects of their success. Even my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wallasey (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon), who has returned from his trip to Sandwich a little, if I may so call it, niblick-minded, really desires to see the success of these schemes.
I do not think it is necessary for me to argue the general merits of the schemes. The figures that have been given of the Paris casualties are sufficient testimony, and I have on several 1271 occasions stated in public my own conviction that these schemes of pedestrian crossings will eventually prove to be the most efficacious method of all in reducing the accident toll upon the roads. I shall devote myself, therefore, entirely to the question of the particular experiment which we have now started in London; and, if I might incidentally answer the question which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass) asked as to urgency, I would say that one of the chief reasons why I treated this matter as urgent was that he and his friends kept on saying in Committee, every time we met, "Why have not these pedestrian crossings been started?" They said it on whatever Clause we were discussing. I think, therefore, that it is a little unfair that I should now be blamed for adopting a particular Parliamentary machinery which has probably saved something like two months in the institution of that experiment which they themselves desired.
§ Mr. STANLEY
I published the regulations as soon as the final details of the experiment were settled and I was ready to start. The only different course that I could have adopted would have been, not to adopt the provisional course, but the alternative, and thereby delay the effective starting of the experiment for a considerable time. Although I very much value the discussion that we are having to-night, I cannot help feeling that probably one gets more value from the actual seeing of this thing working than even from la discussion in the House of Commons. There is this one point that we have to bear in mind when dealing with these pedestrian crossings. It is all right to say there is a scheme in Paris which gives to pedestrians always a right of way, and it is clear that that scheme could perfectly well be adopted in London, but it must necessarily have its limitations. No one would suggest for a moment that you could possibly put down, along Oxford Street for instance, at intervals of 100 yards or so crossing places at which pedestrians at all times would have a complete right of way. It is no good telling me what is done in Paris. I do 1272 not think there is anyone who uses his imagination who cannot see that that would inevitably lead to complete chaos in Oxford Street. First of all, my hon. and gallant Friend said, "Why not have a simple thing as in Paris where the pedestrian lane is a sanctuary," land then he proceeds to tell us that at busy times and at busy places policemen appear to stop the pedestrians getting upon their sanctuary lanes. It does not seem to me that there is much difference between that and this system of controlled and uncontrolled crossings which we have been experimenting with here.
There is a further difficulty which my hon. and gallant Friend said you do not get in Paris, and that is the difficulty of the traffic lights system, which is developing rapidly here and which I want to see developed more rapidly still. One must admit that, if you are to have a uniform system of crossings where the pedestrian will always have a right of way, it means that you cannot put down pedestrian crossings except in places where the pedestrian traffic is not going to be so heavy as to interfere with the free movement of motor traffic along the road. It is clear that, if you can work a system which enables you to put down pedestrian crossings everywhere, instead of only in these limited places, it is very much better. A system of controlled crossing places has very real advantages if you can carry it out. The importance to motor traffic of concentrating the pedestrians who want to cross the street upon those definite crossing places instead of allowing them, as they can now, to filter through against the direction of the traffic as and when they like, cannot be over estimated. There is nothing more irritating to the motorist and more dangerous to the pedestrian than to see him plunging into the stream of traffic that is going along the road in accordance with the directions both of the police and of the traffic lights.
I only make that point because I want to emphasise the fact that there is a real advantage in being able to run this dual system of controlled and uncontrolled crossing places if we can do it. I do not deny the difficulty of doing it. I do not deny that it would have been very much simpler to adopt the essence of the Paris system and make a simple regulation that wherever a pedestrian crossing place is 1273 put down the pedestrian has a complete right of way and then limit the crossing places to places where that would not greatly interfere with the flow of traffic. I do not disguise the fact that is what we may ultimately come to, but I want to impress upon my hon. and gallant Friend my reluctance to abandon something which is really valuable. That really valuable asset will be the concentrating of the pedestrian at these heavy traffic crossing places. I would appeal to my hon. Friends to realise the fact that, if finally we have to adopt the Paris system, we shall he adopting something definitely inferior to the best, and thereby saying that we have had to abandon certain advantages both to the pedestrian and to the motorist, because we are not able to devise a scheme which will be effective.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wallasey was right when he said that we started the experiment on the most difficult scheme first. In doing so, I took the advice of the Traffic Advisory Committee, to whom the details of the experiment were referred, and I quite appreciate their reasons for the recommendation. Nothing could be more fatal to the eventual success of the scheme than that the introduction of the experiment should be followed by a certain number of fatal accidents in the early stages, which would undermine public confidence in the scheme and would inevitably lead to failure. It may be true that these controlled crossings, whether controlled by the police or by lights, are most difficult to make successful, but they are those at which it is easiest to avoid disaster. The presence of a policeman or the action of the lights does in fact give a real security to the pedestrian. The Traffic Advisory Committee thought quite rightly that the safest course was to allow the public to use these crossing places and to get some knowledge of them and to get them into their minds in circumstances where there was the least possible risk of a series of accidents which might seriously prejudice the future of the scheme. In a few days I shall be bringing into force the experiment at the uncontrolled crossings. We are going to put down places where their uncontrolled use by pedestrians will not interfere greatly with the flow of traffic, and upon those crossings the pedestrian will have the fullest rights.
§ Mr. STANLEY
It will be the same sign on the highway, with the addition of the sign to which the hon. and gallant Member referred.
§ Mr. STANLEY
Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will wait until I come to that point. One point on which I feel that some of the criticism levelled against these regulations may be justified and on which I cannot acquit myself of some of the blame is with regard to the propaganda in introducing them. It is not easy to bring regulations or experiments of this kind to the notice of millions of pedestrians in the streets of London. It was not until the introduction of these regulations and the questions of various hon. Members that I began to realise how few of my hon. Friends ever read the front page of the "Times." In this particular case there was the added misfortune that although we sent a communiqué to the British Broadcasting Corporation to fee broadcast they thought that it was not in a suitable form to be included in the news programme. Therefore, unfortunately, that propaganda was not possible. I can assure the House that before the introduction of the new experiment, the uncontrolled experiment, I "hall make every effort to see that the utmost publicity possible is given. In that connection, hon. Members who desire the success of the scheme can be of the greatest assistance. I think that if they concentrated a little more on making the object of the experiment clear instead of merely only the technical difficulties that arise, the public would be in a more receptive frame of mind. My hon. and gallant Friend, I know, sincerely desires the success of this experiment, but he wrote a letter to the "Times" condemning it within a few hours of the marking on the streets. However sincerely that was meant to help the scheme, it does tend to get the public mind into an atmosphere which is non-receptive.
I will reply to one or two specific suggestions that have been made. First, with regard to studs. The hon. and gallant Member has raised that question many times, and I have given him the assurance that I am only using the present 1275 painted sort of marking because it is an experiment, and I may have to remove it. The hon. and gallant Member himself says that the crossings are in the wrong places and will have to go. If they have to go, all that will have to be removed will be a bit of paint instead of a lot of aluminium studs. I have never disguised the fact that these are temporary, and, when the whole scheme is in its permanent form, I may adopt other methods. In regard to studs, it may be interesting to my hon. and gallant Friend to know that in Paris to-day there are great complaints about their visibility. It is said that in wet weather or at night their visibility is very poor, and the Parisian authorities are experimenting with alternative forms of marking for pedestrian crossings.
In regard to the "C" marks, posts to which the hon. and gallant Member referred, it is essential in the early stages of such an experiment that you should have posts with "C" on them. They are put at places where traffic is normally slack and where vehicles will normally be going at a considerable speed, and it is absolutely essential in the early stages that we should have some form of sign which will give to the driver of the vehicle a warning at some considerable distance away. I should not like to undertake an experiment with any regard to the safety of pedestrians unless in the early stages we had a marking of that kind. With regard to the question as to the division of the cost between the Road Fund and the local authorities, I cannot see why these pedestrian crossings should be on a different footing from other traffic signs which it is the duty of the local authority, as representing the ratepayers, to put up. I am afraid that I cannot see my way to treat this particular safety device on a different footing to other safety devices.
As a matter of fact, I think that the hon. and gallant Member for Clitheroe has been a little too pessimistic or a little too optimistic about the failure of this experiment. I do not think that people are so much puzzled or disgusted with the experiment as he makes out. From information which I have received from friends of mine who have discussed the matter, I find that they consider these crossings a good thing. I do not 1276 see why in the end we should not get a real all-embracing scheme of pedestrian crossings covering dense and light traffic roads. There are certain difficulties of course which we are bearing in mind. A question which is becoming urgent is whether we should not provide what is known as the third aspect of signals; that is a particular light for pedestrians. The Departmental Committee recommended that pedestrians should not rely on the signals for crossing, but should also pay attention to the movement of the traffic. Indeed, so flagrant is the abuse by certain motorists of the traffic lights that it is inviting disaster to tell the pedestrian that he is perfectly safe to step into the road because the lights tell him that he can do so. With a more stringent enforcement of the provisions, and a clearer realisation on the part of motorists that it is dangerous, selfish and stupid to jump traffic lights, we shall be able to adopt this system of special lights for pedestrians. I am considering now whether it is possible to add such an indication and whether it would assist the success of these crossings at particular places. I think that the adoption of uncontrolled crossings alone would be a retrograde step. We may have to devise a system which will enable the public to define sufficiently clearly between the two and to remember sufficiently soon the rights of the pedestrian at respective places. I hope it will not come to that. I feel that, if we have to abandon these controlled crossings, we are losing something which is really valuable, but, if we have to do so, it will not in any way prejudice the great benefit which will still result from the scheme in a smaller form. I appeal to hon. Members who wish to see the success of this scheme to co-operate with me in the new experiment which will be launched in a few days at the uncontrolled crossings and to realise what, I think, is true: that however sincerely meant their criticism and their condemnation of the various experiments, and however justified some of these may be in detail, yet the general atmosphere they breathe is one which renders extremely doubtful the success of an experiment, on whatever lines it may be conducted.
§ 11.51 p.m.
Major LLOYD GEORGE
I understand from the Minister that for a short time 1277 his experiment is about to be tried at uncontrolled crossings. I understood him to say that more propaganda will be undertaken to make clear what the position is to be. I should like an assurance from the hon. Gentleman that the certain amount of confusion which at present exists will also be cleared up at the same time.
Major LLOYD GEORGE
I also understood him to say that people were not so puzzled as has been suggested. Might I give him an example? My hon. and gallant Friend who moved this Prayer said, with regard to right and left turns from the stream of traffic, that there was a good deal of confusion there. As I understand it, people turning to the right or left from the main stream have to give way to pedestrians. To show-that confusion exists, I took the trouble just before this discussion started of taking a cutting from one of the leading national newspapers. The words are as follow:At a marked crossing place the pedestrian always has right of way except when either a policeman's or a traffic signal has given it to the motorist.If I am proceeding from the House of Commons towards Piccadilly up St. James's Street, and I have been given by a signal right of way from the top of St. James's Street, that is my right of way; but, according to the instructions of the Minister, that is not my right of way. There is an enormous amount of confusion in the minds of pedestrians and motorists as to what their rights are. May I ask the Minister, if he undertakes further propaganda on uncontrolled crossings, to make it definitely clear once for all what the rights of pedestrians and motorists are on uncontrolled crossings?
§ 11.52 p.m.
§ Mr. GEOFFREY PETO
Might I ask a question on which my life depends every day? Crossing a main road at a certain spot, within 20 yards of each other you will find a zig-zag crossing and a few yards further on a board saying "Please cross here." I like crossing and I like the "Please," but which order am I to obey? The zig-zag suggests electrocution or the broad arrow, and a few yards away a notice invites me to cross. On which am I allowed to cross, please, and on which shall I be fined 5s.?
§ 11.53 p.m.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
I am one of those who welcome the Minister trying both controlled and uncontrolled crossings. I think, however, that when the uncontrolled crossings are finally settled they should be marked in a very different way from that in which the controlled crossings are marked now. I understand that when you are crossing a controlled crossing and the light is in your favour or the policeman, if he is there, beckons you past, you have a right of way through. I also understand that when you are crossing an uncontrolled crossing you have no right to go past when a pedestrian is on that crossing. I may be wrong, but that is how I understand this new system. If that be the case, there are two very different rules applying to the controlled and the uncontrolled crossings respectively. The uncontrolled crossing does not seem to be sufficiently differentiated from the controlled by this board on the side of the pavement—as I suppose it will be. A board on the side of the pavement does not catch the eye of the motorist as he drives along the road. If the Minister does not think that the studs are sufficiently visible at night, I would suggest to him that he should have two of those small red reflectors which you often see on the corners of roads, on the side of these uncontrolled crossings when the positions of them are finally settled. I do not ask him to do it now because he may have to change the place of the crossings, but when that is finally settled I ask that something a motorist can see during the day, such as studs, and small lights that he can see at night, should be put at these crossings, and that these crossings should be designated in a different way from what are known as controlled crossings. I want the Minister also to make clear to the pedestrian how far away a pedestrian crossing should be if the pedestrian has to walk back to the crossing. Generally I am certain that the Minister is quite right in putting this method into operation at the earliest possible moment, and I think, too, that his observations to-night will have cleared not only the minds of some hon. Members, but, if published in the newspapers, the minds of the public as well.
§ 11.57 p.m.
§ Lord APSLEY
In Edinburgh there have been uncontrolled crossings for 1279 many years, without any difficulty at all having been experienced. They are put where the refuges are. Where there are refuges the pedestrian has a right to cross, and the motor traffic must allow him that right. Of course the traffic in Edinburgh is nothing like as heavy as that in London. I suggest that these uncontrolled crossings in London should be placed where there are refuges, and that in order to educate London people, both the motorist and the pedestrian, to Edinburgh standards, the refuges should be well and definitely marked, say in red or some striking colour which the motorist would have no difficulty in seeing at once. There should not be pedestrian crossings where there are not refuges. With regard to controlled crossings I can only suggest that the Minister's own proposal should be taken up. That is definitely a matter of lights. When the green light comes off and the yellow light shows again that yellow light should be changed to orange red or some definite colour, during which time the pedestrian can cross. The yellow light should show for only a short time and then change to orange red for the pedestrian to cross before the light turns to green for the motorist.
§ 11.59 p.m.
Lieut.-Colonel CHARLES KERR
As one who walks a great deal in London, land drives a car all over the country, I want to put one thought into the Minister's mind. I do not believe that any of these signs will have any effect in preventing deaths and injuries to foot passengers and motorists unless far more severe punishments are inflicted on those who cause the accidents. To-day there was a case of deliberate obstruction by a pedestrian in Pall Mall. The lady concerned should have been run over, but with the greatest skill my taxi driver avoided her. She ought to have been punished for so behaving, and over and over again, if you drive through the streets of London or in the country, you find people deliberately disobeying the definite instructions and orders of the police and the Ministry. Very severe punishment should be inflicted on those who disobey, and I do not believe in any case that you will get any satisfaction out of these regulations unless you put the fear of death into people who disobey.
§ 12.1 a.m.
§ Colonel BALDWIN-WEBB
If we are to have two kinds of crossings, we shall make confusion worse confounded, in my opinion. I believe that one standard type should be decided upon and stuck to. The Minister might consider some kind of light in the kerbstone that would be suitable both for pedestrians and for motorists.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.