The hidden benefits of smart motorways

In 2015, Holborn Underground station was suffering from serious overcrowding at peak hours, with a bottleneck forming in the space leading to the escalators. So Transport for London tried an experiment. Abandoning the usual ‘stand on the right, walk on the left’ convention, they placed signs on two of the three ascending escalators instructing people on both sides to stand. Outrage followed. But the experiment worked. Escalators with passengers standing transported an average of 151 people per minute, compared with 115 for the dual-use escalator. People cannot all walk up an escalator in strict lockstep for fear of ending up on the sex offenders register You can see why people

‘Smart’ motorways are an accident waiting to happen

If I could wave a wand and reverse just one government policy it would be the expansion of so-called ‘smart motorways’ in the face of what seems the iron determination of the Department for Transport to press ahead with them. These are motorways where the hard shoulder is incorporated into the motorway to create an extra lane – a loss supposedly compensated for with periodic refuges for breakdowns. If you wondered why stretches of the M4 are shut most weekends for works, this is what they are doing. The consequences of such supposed ‘improvements’ can be lethal. The latest evidence comes from a Sheffield inquest, where the coroner, David Urpeth,

A documentary about the M25 that will make your heart soar

When a 90-minute documentary is introduced with the words ‘This is the M25’, you’d be within your rights not to feel your heart soar. Nor would you necessarily expect what follows to be full of wonders of all kinds — natural, historical, literary and scientific. Yet this is exactly what happened in BBC Four’s The Hidden Wilds of the Motorway, presented by Helen Macdonald. Macdonald is best known for her 2014 bestseller H is for Hawk, which mixed memoir and falconry with a biography of the author T.H. White. In Tuesday’s programme, she was on similarly genre-blending form as she set off on a television journey that, in a rare