We will never go Dutch

10th November 2006 at 00:00
Glancing over the newspapers the other day, I noticed the Dutch have once again made headlines for their approach to controlling road-users - or, rather, not controlling them.

Perhaps the fact that most of Holland's population manages to survive below sea level without the need for water wings has given it a capacity for lateral thinking which we don't have in the UK.

That most civilised of countries learned a long time ago that, sometimes, if you just let people get on with things, nothing bad will happen.

Just in case you don't know about about the Dutch approach to traffic management, let me tell you the story.

The Dutch have taken all the traffic lights and signs away from a very busy city-centre roundabout, leaving all the traffic, including cyclists, most of whom, notably, don't wear helmets, to their own devices.

The result is that, as people approach the roundabout, they develop that adrenalin rush that you get when you realise you're on your own and the nanny state isn't going to tell you what to do.

The result is that everyone looks out for other road-users and nobody gets hurt.

My bet is that, in the UK, a few of our particularly arrogant breed of urban cyclists who insist on wearing black and do not have lights on their bikes might get run over and killed - but even this would be a wake-up call, meaning fewer deaths in the long run.

Meanwhile, the Dutch must be having a good laugh at us Brits - especially when it comes to speed cameras, most of which are made in Holland.

It strikes me that their culture provides the answer to FE bureaucracy.

Maybe we should try the Dutch experiment on colleges.

Simply hand over the dosh, and let them spend it how they like. Students, the business community, governors and staff might start to look out for each other a bit more once they don't have their eyes distracted by millions of "signposts" erected by the state telling them what to do. You never know, colleges might benefit from being allowed to keep their eyes on the road.

Of course, such a thing will never happen. The jobs of millions of auditors, quangocrats and bottom inspectors would vanish, leaving only the people who do real jobs still in employment.

No, if we do things the Dutch way it would be the end of civilisation as we know it.

Email us at FErret@tes.co.uk

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