Motoring News In Brief: Budget Cars & Roads Without Pavements

Should We Scrap Pavements In Urban Areas?

Britain’s town centres and residential areas are increasingly clogged with ‘traffic calming’ measures that only serve to damage car suspension, shake buildings and test drivers’ patience.

The government argues that they are necessary to slow drivers down, but there are alternatives.

An recent article on HonestJohn.co.uk suggests that Britain should adopt the Dutch system of ‘Woonerfs‘ – roads where the whole width of the road is paved on the same level and made into a pedestrian zone where cars are also allowed.

At first sight, this sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the reality is that it makes car drivers drive very carefully indeed, as there is no boundary between them and the pedestrians. I’ve driven on roads in Europe where this system is in place and I believe it really works – cars have to slow down to walking speed and show respect for pedestrians. Speed humps, kerbs and width restrictions become irrelevant and unecessary – cars are moving slow enough that ‘traffic calming’ is no longer required.

Woonerfs can be used in town centres and on residential streets – in both cases they work to create a safe, calm environment where cars move carefully and slowly, showing respect to pedestrians. The street where I live is a classic example of how a Woonerf could work to slow cars down and improve safely.

My street is fairly narrow – there’s a pavement on each side, on-road parking down one side and just enough remaining width for one car. Given this, you would think that drivers would be quite careful – people may be opening car doors or emerging from between parked cars at any time and passing vehicles are very close to people on the pavement.

The reality is quite different – people tear along the street as if it’s a drag strip, ignoring the proximity of anyone on the pavement and the potential hazards presented by the parked cars.

I am certain that if the road was extended to the width of the pavement, so that pedestrians walked on the same level as cars with no boundary between them, the drivers would slow down.

What do you think?

Auto Trader Top 10 Budget Cars

Auto Trader has published a list of the top 10 most searched-for budget cars – in this case, cars below £1,000.

Topping the list, unsurprisingly, are the 1993-2000 Vauxhall Corsa and the 1989-1995 Ford Fiesta – both classic cheap-to-run choices that are well proven and generally reliable. My first car was a 1990 Ford Fiesta 1.1LX and it was the cheapest and most reliable vehicle I have ever owned.

The Ford Focus is top choice for anyone seeking something a bit larger, and older VW Golfs are popular too, as are various less reliable French cars like the Peugeot 206 and early Renault Clios. Check out the full list here.

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