UK Man Mounts Traffic War Using Pedestrian Crosswalk Button (And Wins. Sort Of.)


Photo s__i via flickr and Creative Commons.

You would think the residents of Chideock, a small town in Dorset in the UK, would have been happy. After many, many years of heavy traffic making it difficult to simply cross the road, they received a pedestrian "pelican" crossing, complete with a crosswalk sensor button that allowed them to bring a halt to the unceasing line of trucks and cars zooming through their hamlet. Not all of Chideock's residents were pleased, however. Instead, a few of them got fighting mad.Led by one man, Tony Fuller, some residents of Chideock staged a protest against the traffic that they saw as destroying their life quality and polluting their air. And they waged their protest using what turned out to be a powerful tool - the crosswalk button.

Last year, working in shifts, a number of the town's residents kept the button continually pressed, and at one point had a miles-long traffic jam of trucks (called "lorries" in the UK) and autos stretching back out of town.

Eventually, someone who disagreed with their method of protest simply jammed the button with a thick application of superglue.

Fuller did not give up. He continued with his pelican protest, as well as meeting with highway officials. Due to his perseverance and considerable media coverage, a local government official, Oliver Letwin, is working on the possibility of implementing a London-style 'congestion charge' on large trucks that have no local business driving through Chideock on the A35 road.

Fuller, who has suffered repeated heart attacks since the protests began in May 2010 and is suffering from cancer, told the Dorset Echo that he feels all his efforts are starting to come to fruition.

If Chideock is established as a 'low emissions zone' (LEZ), trucks and other large vehicles would have to meet low emissions standards or pre-pay a daily fee in order to use the road. Compliance would be enforced via cameras reading license numbers.

Fuller's actions to easy truck and car traffic in his town spotlights the very real way that our dependence on car culture has negative effects on quality of life.

Yet not all Chideock's residents agree with the protests or the planned solution, saying that an LEZ would only force traffic through other small towns, and would raise the cost of goods due to the increased costs to move freight. Others say that anyone living in Chideock (it has a large retired population) should already know that it is a 'traffic black spot' and thus not complain. Residents have also always protested against plans to build a larger bypass road that would avoid Chideock's main street.

What do you think? Is Fuller a local traffic-slashing hero or a nattering nabob of NIMBYism?

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