Friday, 20 March 2009

A truly British icon

You only notice them after you've been away. What could be more characteristically British in terms of street architecture than the Belisha Beacon. The orange globes atop and black and white posts have been flashing on and off for three quarters of a century. Apart from looking so wonderfully, eccentrically British, they are functional. British drivers can see pedestrian crossings at a distance. A pedestrian merely needs to loiter by a crossing for motorists to stop.

How different in Poland, where on the roads might is right. Unless a pedestrian has his foot on the zebra, the motorist will carry on. Even if the pedestrian is actually on the zebra, the motorist will continue if possible. In Britain, for the motorist, the combination of zebra + pedestrian is a potent as a red traffic light.

In the UK, zig-zag markings on either side of crossing prevent motorists from overtaking or parking on the approaches. This makes life safer for pedestrians. Statistically, Poland has more fatalities on its roads than the UK, despite having less than half the number of cars on its roads. The Belisha Beacon is one reason Britain's roads are safer.

1 comment:

scatts said...

Love the belisha and the number of times I've wished Poland had those zig-zag lines is incalculable.

I just hate approaching a zebra here with absolutely ZERO visibility of who might be about to cross.