London

The day I wrote to the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London

Dear Mr Cameron, Dear Mr Johnson,

I have postponed the moment to write this letter many times, hoping that the situation would improve but it hasn’t. Today I can’t postpone it anymore.

My name is Cecilia, I’m half French and half Norwegian, I have been living in London for more than a year and a half and so far I have almost got injured (or worse) five times while crossing streets, the fifth time being today at the corner of Crawford St and Seymour Pl.

I value my life and I don’t want to risk it every time I cross a street.

We are speaking about London, not about a city in an underdeveloped country. And to be honest, I found it safer to cross the streets in Yangon than those of London. The Burmese might not have that many traffic lights but they have a system: cars do stop whenever people are crossing a street. But in London? No way! Drivers honk but almost never slow down. And if they do, you can be sure that they will insult the person(s) crossing. This is not normal and needs to change.

The major problem is when the main traffic light is red. It is both the time for pedestrians to cross but also for cars to turn. And this situation becomes dangerous when drivers don’t put their indicators or when their cars are hidden behind cars that don’t turn.

I don’t find it normal to stop in the middle of the street to let cars go, it should be the other way round, but it is not. Drivers have understood that cars are bigger and stronger than bodies and therefore think that they are superior and that it allows them to do whatever they like.

I know that The United Kingdom is a very proud country, but a look at what your neighbours do will not hurt (I promise) and it could save many lives each year.

In Norway, pedestrians are highly valued. Drivers respect the low speed limit and stop every time pedestrians cross the street, even if it is outside a crossing (which they normally don’t do).

I heard that this used to be the way British drivers behaved some twenty or thirty years ago. But, then, what has happened? And why has it evolved the wrong way?

I don’t have the answers and think that it would be difficult to only rely on drivers to change back their behaviours.

A technical solution, forcing them to stop, seems to be easier to implement.

For example, in France, there is a time for cars to go straight ahead, a time for cars to turn and a time for pedestrians to cross safely.  Why not do something similar?  You would simply need to invest in more traffic lights. And furthermore, this would be an investment and not an additional cost because, by doing so, the NHS would save on the costs for road accident.

I hope, but sincerely doubt, that my letter will make a change but I had to write it for all the people who died or were injured but more importantly for all those that can be saved in the future.

Yours sincerely,

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