Don't be afraid of the dark

Walloons are switching off lights on roads, which saves them a bob or two on the national budget, cuts down on electricity consumption and even benefits the reduction of light pollution.

So when Flemish Minister of Mobility Crevits was asked if there were any similar plans in the pipeline the answer was at the very least miserably inadequate: 'Wallonië heeft een totaal ander wegennet: daar heb je rechte en verlaten stukken, waardoor verlichting minder belangrijk is. In Vlaanderen heb je om de honderd meter een kruispunt en staat er om de haverklap een bloembak.'

Well, thanks a bunch. Amateur astronomers like myself give her reaction a big thumbs down (see my earlier post on light pollution). Is it because she hopped from the Environment to the Mobility ministerial job the policy is not to give a rat's ass about things that really matter? Very strange indeed.
When she was still minister for Environment she sang to a different tune as we can still read on the Exxon Mobil website: 'Als je energie bespaart, wordt het eenvoudiger om de doelstellingen te halen, zoals de nieuwe voorgestelde Europese norm voor België om 13 procent duurzaam op te wekken in 2020. Het totale energieverbruik daalt immers. Maar we kunnen niet wachten tot de laatste kilowattuur is bespaard. Rationeel energieverbruik en hernieuwbare energiebronnen moeten dus hand in hand gaan.'

A few remarks:
- Raised flowerbeds are a means of slowing down cars in streets so they have to zig zag and can't proceed to race through full throttle. They are usually put in roads that run in a straight line... Did she forget that implementing them are a means of trying to reduce speed and thus accidents resulting thereof? Or does road safety not fall under the guise of the department of Mobility? So no straight secondary roads in Flanders?
Hmmm. I think Crevits should go out more. Or just take up gardening if she thinks the flowerbeds are just there because they are pretty.
- Why does, according to her answer, every intersection need to be fully lit up? If an intersection is unsafe for crossing, then it is usually due to lack of visibility in the structural sense. Not the presence or lack of lighting.
It might also be a remark expressing a reluctancy to really take on structural measures. 1) ensuring people drive more safely (prevention, information, better checks on technical car safety), 2) building or changing intersections so they are easier to oversee (roadworks) and 3) stemming the juridicalization of our society (I'm thinking of the numerous court cases the last few years brought by citizens who summon mayors because the judges rule there was no lighting at an intersection).

On a different note. Judging from Crevits' remarks it seems as if she has never actually been in the southern part of the country, or hasn't travelled anywhere else in Europe for that matter. Straight and abandoned pieces of roads? No need to be lit just because of that?
I get dizzy most of the time when driving in the Walloon part. Because of the geological appearance most roads wind a lot. I'd say the opposite of Flanders. Or maybe she wasn't paying attention because her chauffeur does all the driving. Or she could be a bit dim... (geddit?)

What is it with this fixation on lighting every inch of every road? We have the most lit up country by far but still manage to have very high figures of road accidents with deadly outcome in Europe. And they're not due to bad lighting alone. Statlovers go here.

Bleh. I still renew my plea for darker skies. Even in the International Year of Astronomy.

Remember what The Robert Cray Band sang: 'Don't be afraid of the dark'.

No comments: