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Sunday, 14 June 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #58 – 14 June 1961

On 14 June, 1961, it was announced that a new type of road crossing with push button controls for pedestrians was to be introduced during the next year.  The announcement by the Ministry of Transport confirmed new 'panda' crossings would be installed on a 12-month experimental basis because of the rising number of accidents on uncontrolled zebra crossings.

In the first half of 1960, 533 people were killed or injured on zebra crossings, compared with 447 for the same period in 1959. 

The new push button-controlled crossings were planned be introduced at between 40 and 50 sites in England and Wales.  Half the crossings would be installed where there were none in existence at all. The remainder would be placed in Guildford, Surrey where all 13 crossings would be converted to the new push button variety, and Lincoln, Lincolnshire, where 10 would be converted.

Transport Minister Ernest Marples said he hoped by imposing an element of control over pedestrian crossings, 'some of the dangerous uncertainties of the present system would be eliminated'.

Panda crossings were introduced in April 1962, but initial confusion over the sequence of flashing lights led to some swift modifications.  The scheme later had to be abandoned as pedestrians and motorists alike complained it was too confusing and the system was also beset with mechanical failures.

Pelican crossings, another system using push button sand flashing lights, were introduced in 1969, and proved more successful.

p.s. The Tufty Club, aimed to educate children in road safety, was also launched in 1961 in a campaign that used puppets, including Tufty the squirrel, to spread the message.

Source: BBC and others

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