DIY Traffic Calming vs Road Danger

Confronted by a laissez-faire attitude towards road danger, people are taking matters into their own hands.

Twitter user @HerbieGreen this week shared photos of a bird box in Billingham disguised as a speed camera, but this kind of imaginative DIY traffic calming isn’t limited to these shores.

Folk all around the world are demanding safer streets. Community groups in America have placed tethered helium-filled balloons in the middle of streets to calm traffic where children play; New Yorkers have created their own concrete curb extensions to slow traffic speeds on corners and parents have encouraged their kids to use wheelie bins to slow drivers.

Guerrilla urbanism

Road danger in Britain alone kills and injures over 16,000 kids every year and the associated air pollution damages the health of millions more. For as long as there have been cars, there have been protested against them. English philosopher C. E. M. Joad captured the public mood of the early twentieth century when he described driving as “one of the most contemptible soul-destroying and devitalising pursuits that the ill-fortune of misguided humanity has ever imposed upon its credulity.”

Over the last century, groups both large and small have been forced to take matters into their own hands to fight against the domination of car culture.

road danger, protest, people power

People Power: Dutch folk protesting against road danger in the early 1970s

Perhaps most famously, the Stop de Kindermoord movement sparked radical change in the Netherlands. As a result, the Dutch transport system is the envy of the world.

Now more than ever, an increasing number understand the needs of people must be placed above those of cars. For our part, we were involved in a little DIY traffic calming when we designed our very own pop-up zebra crossing.

“It’s not seen as safe for children to play in their own streets”

The effect of road danger on children’s lives is insidious. Parents worry the roads are too dangerous to allow their kids to walk, cycle or play and drive them instead – thereby increasing the very danger they fear. By contrast, good quality infrastructure in the Netherlands allows Dutch children as young as 8 to cycle independently in safety.

We need to look at why we’ve created a society where it’s not seen as safe for children to play in their own streets because of motor vehicles, it’s not seen as safe to ride a bike – normal, enjoyable activity – because of the risk of motor vehicles injuring people, so we need to change that lens and look at the source of road danger rather than say ‘what did the victim do wrong“. Rachel Aldred, Professor of Transport at the University of Westminster, and Director of the Active Travel Academy

The extract above is taken from our documentary Stop Killing our Children. The 40-minute, crowdfunded film is narrated by the BBC’s John Simpson and features interviews with Chris Boardman, Dr Rachel Aldred, Dr Ian Walker, George Monbiot and the founders of the Stop de Kindermoord movement. Please help turn the tide against road danger. Please watch the full-length film below and share

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurancebreakdown cover  and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.




  1. Michael Wells


    When young I can remember playing in a nearby side street. It was good socially and. Physically for young children.

  2. Steve Connolly


    Great idea. Sometimes the authorities say it may cause an accident for which the fake camera owner would be responsible.
    But how does a fake camera cause accidents that a real camera does not?

  3. Chris


    Steve Connolly,
    Re: “Sometimes the authorities say it may cause an accident for which the fake camera owner would be responsible.”
    If an imitation speed camera can supposedly cause accidents, then so can the real thing (we should remain sceptical of such claims).
    What really causes accidents is drivers driving at excessive speeds, not paying attention, and not maintaining proper control of their vehicles at all times.

  4. David Beacham


    “Road danger in Britain alone kills and injures over 16,000 kids every year” – really? What is the source for this?

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