Don’t Fence me in

Now that I’m off the bike I’m spending a lot of time walking to and from the station. Eighteen minutes (the precision is important when there are trains to catch) each way and in the morning I usually have to hurry if I’m going to make it to the station with a little slack to allow for unforeseen faffers at the news stand. Now at the best of times I walk faster than about 90% of the adult population of London, and these are not the best of times. Getting stuck behind an ambler or, worse, a group of amblers, is a nightmare. Ambling, in my opinion, should be confined to non-rush hours and the regions beyond zone six. It has no place in the environs of a train station at any hour.

To make things worse, the powers that be have decided to put metal fences along half the roads in the approach to Vauxhall so that pedestrians can only cross at the designated crossings. This is beginning to bug me. It’s not just that it means I can’t step out into the street to get round a group of particularly deaf (iPod), blind (hoodies) and terminally slow (mother nature? drugs?) pedestrians who apparently can only walk seven abreast – I have elbows for that. It’s the sheer pointlessness of it. I can see that, if you’re trying to negotiate a tricky junction while checking your makeup in the rear view mirror and making a sales call on your mobile, you don’t want to have to worry about pedestrians popping up unexpectedly in places other than the designated crossing. But why fence off one side of the road and not the other? The whole traffic island at Vauxhall Cross is fenced except for the three crossing entrances- but the pavement on the other side is not. As I approach the station, if I see the road is clear and I think I’m going to miss my train, of course I’m going to cross – the timings on those lights were designed by sadists. But having got across I can’t get onto the safety of the pavement because of the fence. I have to walk along the edge of the road to get to a gap. Marvellous. And that’s not taking into account the pedestrians who simply clamber over them. At least I’m not that impatient. Or athletic, as it happens.

But it’s not just the busy junctions, either. I walk up Kennington Road every day – a long, straight, wide stretch of road with no major junctions, a few side roads and a couple of pelican crossings. Which are fenced. For, ooh, ten yards on either side. Anybody wanting to nip across on a bit of a diagonal is stuck – oh no, that would be dangerous, you must cross in the crossing. But anyone wanting to cross anywhere else – at a bus stop, say, or right on an actual side road – no problem. It makes no sense. Or maybe I’ve misunderstood? Maybe the fences aren’t to keep the pedestrians in, but the cars out. Perhaps some drivers, maddened by a particularly egregious bit of button pushing (I like pressing it after I’ve crossed, if I’ve had a particularly bad day), have been trying to exact their revenge, and this is an attempt to stop them…

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5 responses to “Don’t Fence me in

  1. they have fencing all along the seafront here in Brighton. Actually, that is a godsend. If I drive along the seafront road at night, all manner of drunken people are otherwise falling into the road – the gaps at pedestrian crossings mean I only have to watch out for them there. Curiously, because visibilty is so low (or my car lights so rubbish) the girls who wear next to nothing in December are at least glowing a high vis blue.

    Actually, though there is a part of town near the Royal Pavilion that NEEDS fencing in. There have been a number of deaths from buses running over pedestrians who cross haphazardly from all directions. It’s a deathtrap for careless pedestrians.

    of course that doesn’t help your dash for the train. Perhaps they should have some sort of three lane system like a motorway for pedestrians – but then if I they can’t cope with keeping to one side of the escalator, I guess we’re on a losing battle. They should have pedestrian tests and you get your licence once you can be trusted to behave responsibly while out,.

  2. I share your pedestrian raging tendencies. I have often been known to propose a pedestrian equivalent of the driving test. However, I rarely get a second invitation to dinner.

  3. Moobs, meet Cookie; Cookie, Moobs – it sounds like you two have a lot in common…

  4. makes you almost nostalgic for france …

    come on – i did say ‘almost’

  5. Muthas – well if it’s a choice between a long drawn-out death due to ingrowing impatience, or a quick merciful one at the hands of a French driver, maybe France wasn’t too bad after all…

    What do you mean you can’t die of impatience?

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