The Ranty Highwayman)
We are concerned that nobody is hurt on our streets and roads as a result of a mistake by them or others and this underpins a better approach to highway design. Of course, when someone gets it wrong, they shouldn’t pay for it with their life.
Despite the promises of self-driving vehicles always being ten years away, we have to live in the now and that means we have to install ‘stuff’ into the highway to warn/ inform/ regulate people and that means traffic signs, bollards and the other kit used to manage the flow of people. The trouble is, people do make mistakes and the kit tends to be crashed into. This could be anything from the almost comedic person walking into a lighting column because they were distracted, to a driver on a high speed road having a blow-out and crashing into a bridge pier.
Perhaps we can think about energy. On the one hand, walking into a lighting column can hurt, but hopefully, you wouldn’t be too damaged; although some people are less able to recover. On the other hand, crashing a car at 70mph into a bridge pier is almost certainly going to kill everyone in the vehicle. In other words, the greater the energy involved, the greater the risk.
For the lighting column example or indeed any piece of street furniture, we should take care with placement so that we don’t leave it in a desire where someone might fall over it or walk into it; visually impaired people are going to be disproportionately affected. For the bridge pier example, we are going to have to put in some sort of protection which will absorb the energy of the vehicle and either stop it hitting the pier or divert it away.