Tuesday, 11 October 2011


These abhorrently visually-intrusive recent additions to our stock of spacially-intrusive street furniture in Aberdeen are supposed to improve the air quality in our town.


Aberdeen City Council
Air Quality Action Plan 2011

VMS [variable messaging system] is currently used in Aberdeen to provide drivers with general car parking guidance, enabling them to avoid driving unnecessarily looking for car parking spaces. Further VMS signs have recently been implemented around the City on key corridor approaches advising of incidents/events that may affect their travel onwards. ACC [Aberdeen City Council] is also to use the VMS to post general air quality messages, particularly on peripheral City routes. These messages should raise awareness of air quality, especially during air pollution episodes [sic].
(our emphasis)


But the system exists solely for the benefit and convenience of motorists. It marshals and directs them with the maximum possible state-of-the-art technological efficiency towards the surfeit of parking spaces available in the town centre. We cannot remember seeing this variable messaging system ever displaying a total number of fewer than two thousand vacant parking spaces available.

How can this be? This is a contradiction to the aim, we cannot reduce the harm cause by motoring by encouraging more motoring. For this system, which demonstrably has the increase of driver convenience as its entire reason for being, serves as an invitation for irresponsible motorists to bring cars into the very centre of the town. So the system acts as a disincentive to active travel or modal shift. This system normalises the bringing of noisy polluting vehicles into the town centre. It provides both permission and facility. The message sent by this Variable Message System is: "If you are a motorist, you are very welcome in the centre of this town - look; see how much space we have made available for you. Don't worry about climate change, don't worry about air quality. This town doesn't - it will pander to you, don't worry... don't worry..." We very much doubt that the promise to "post general air quality messages" to "raise awareness... during air pollution episodes" will ever suggest that the motorist reading the message is contributing to the problem and should leave the car at home. No - secure in their hot, locked, filth-belching, noisy metal boxes - motorists are comforted and enabled by this system.

This is wrong. Motorists must be made to worry, life must be made difficult for them in town centres. To offer motorists facility and sanction for their harmful and selfish activity is no way to reduce pollution, no way to cut down on dangerous carbon emissions. A better policy which would result in improved air quality in this town and a reduction in its carbon budget would be a policy which sees the removal of this car parking guidance system, accompanied by a complete ban on creating any more parking spaces and the phased closing down of existing parking facilities.


Peter Burnett said...

Vain Mad Signs / Vehicles Maintain Superiority / Value Moot & Spurious / Vindictive Mechanical Shit / Vroom My Saab / Vexing Modern Strategy / Verifying Motor Supremacy / Vertical Mind-boggling Structures / Vegan Mashing Sickos / Vassal Manipulating Symbols / Vector Mapping 'Security' / Void My Schlepp / Vanishing Models of Sustainibility / Vaccuous Mixup of Signals / Villainous Metal Suggestions .... ugh I could go on, great pictures, those are awesome-bad devices... that the cars need such mollycoddling... a bad sign (no pun intended)...

neepheid said...

I used to enjoy your blog with its wry observations, witty anecdotes and security guard baiting, but lately it's got a bit too frothy mouthed for my liking. Wishing harm on motorists was the last straw ("Motorists must be made to worry, life must be made difficult for them" - yes, worry is harmful, no-one likes to feel worried).

The excellent photography isn't enough to balance out the fanaticism. You've crossed a line beyond which I have no desire to follow you.

Other Aberdeen said...

Neepheed, mmmm. "fanaticism". We had to think carefully about how to react to that, but, on balance, we agree with you. Yes, we are atmosphere-fanatics. Are you not?