Sat. May 25th, 2024

Following the expansion of Sadiq Khan’s controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone earlier this year, the rollout of the cameras needed to monitor traffic has been hamstrung by the cunning vandalism campaign carried out by a group knows as the “blade runners”.

Number plate recognition cameras across the Greater London area have fallen victim to the vandals, whom many people in the capital support, since the mayor’s expansion.

The ballsy acts of defiance have, in some cases, cost TfL a chunk of change as cameras have been taken out of action.

However, despite the sense that these acts of resistance are novel, they are anything but.

In the 1930s, Londoners were up in arms about the introduction of ‘Belisha Beacons’. Despite having an elaborate title, Belisha Beacons actually was the nickname for a piece of public furniture that’s commonplace on Britain’s streets.

The black and white poles with an amber orb sat on top mark some zebra crossings on either side of the road.

The beacons took their name from the then Transport Minister Leslie Hore-Belisha, that took charge of the Department in 1934. When he arrived Britain’s roads were a deathtrap.

According to MyLondon, in the first week alone following his appointment, 180 people were killed and 6,000 injured on the roads.

In an effort to stem the tide of traffic-related injuries and deaths, Hore-Belisha decided upon a new range of measures, including the introduction of the driving test, 30mph speed limits in urbanised areas, and new powers for councils to introduce safe crossings for pedestrians.

One such idea for a new measure to increase the safety of those crossing the road, was the Belisha Beacon.

Rather than the beacon sitting on either side of a zebra crossing, studs were placed across the road where the beacon was installed, the first of which appeared near Hyde Park.

Satisfied with his invention, Hore-Belisha demanded that every London Council set up 8,000 of the new beacon crossings within a month, telling them: “We can’t afford to wait. On average, four people are killed in London every day, and I look upon these crossings as the pedestrians’ lifebelt.”

Although popular in some circles, in others Londonders thought the new beacons were eyesores and blocked pedestrians and traffic.

Such was the anger felt by some in the capital that beacons were smashed and parts ripped off them, in an unlikely foreshadowing of the blade runners that would take the streets nearly a century later.

Hore-Belisha was branded a “dictator” for forcing through the installations so quickly.

According to a Britain By Car news report from January 1, 1935 an estimated 25 per cent of the beacons in Hampstead alone had been removed in the year since their installation.

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The post ‘ULEZ bladerunners’ of the 1930s tore up traffic scheme and faced down mayor appeared first on WorldNewsEra.


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