Martin Cassini

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Martin Cassini is a TV programme-maker and campaigner for traffic system reform.[1] He advocates replacing priority (an engineering model) with equality (a social model) to provide a level playing-field on which all road-users can act sociably. This, he says, would remove the "need" for most traffic controls, and solve many of our road safety and congestion problems, which stem from those very controls.[2][3][4][5]

Cassini has contributed to Economic Affairs (journal of the Institute of Economic Affairs), The Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, BBC Newsnight and Traffic Technology International.

Cassini's reforms overlap with the shared space movement of Hans Monderman and Ben Hamilton-Baillie, which is demonstrating in Bohmte and Drachten that peaceful coexistence can flourish when road-users are free to use their own judgement on roads designed to stimulate rather than enforce appropriate conduct.[6][7] His ideas also echo the theory of spontaneous order,[8] which states that the more complex the dance of human movement (e.g. a skateboard park), the less useful are attempts to control it.

Cassini helped instigate a lights-off trial in Portishead, Somerset,[9] which began on 14 September 2009. Conducted in association with North Somerset Council and Colin Buchanan, it went permanent after journey times fell by over 50% with no loss of pedestrian safety, despite greater numbers now using the route (over 2000 vehicles and 300 pedestrians an hour).[10][11] Minor trials took place in Westminster, Oxford, and Bristol in 2009.[12] But deregulation is not enough on its own, says Cassini. It needs to be accompanied by changes in road design, culture, the driving test and the law.[13]

Cassini is a member of the International Advisory Council of the Kyoto World Cities New Mobility Program.[14]


  • Cassini, Martin (December 2006). "In Your Car No One Can Hear You Scream! Are Traffic Controls in Cities a Necessary Evil?". Economic Affairs. 26 (4). doi:10.2139/ssrn.10.1111.


  1. ^ Cassini, Martin (23 January 2007). "I like traffic lights, but only when they're dismantled?". The Times. The Berlin Wall of the multibillion traffic control establishment is manned by highly paid experts. As a traffic-light-free world threatens their raison d'être, perhaps their resistance is understandable.
  2. ^ Fletcher, Martin (26 June 2009). "On Roads, by Joe Moran". The Independent. When the television producer Martin Cassini, an advocate of shared-space design, declared on Newsnight that all traffic lights should be dismantled, Jeremy Paxman pulled a face and said "Crikey!"
  3. ^ MacDonald, Nico (19 March 2007). "London: still stuck in a jam". Archived from the original on 21 March 2008. There is a sound argument, espoused by commentators such as Martin Cassini, that we have too many traffic lights
  4. ^ Kane, Conor (25 November 2011). "Courtesy traffic system campaigner seeks green light". The Irish Times. The town of Portishead outside Bristol tried out the system ... after the local council saw a report by Mr Cassini on BBC's Newsnight.
  5. ^ Carfrae, Jack (8 September 2010). "Should traffic lights be banned?". Yahoo! Cars. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Martin Cassini, the man who instigated the Portishead switch-off, is campaigning to get traffic lights canned and unnecessary road signs removed from Britain's roads as part of his 'Roads FiT for People' movement.
  6. ^ Phibbs, Harry (6 May 2009). "Traffic signals should get the red light". The Guardian. Martin Cassini, of Equality Streets (a relaunch of FiT Roads), says: " ... air pollution in London exceeds EC environmental and health guidelines ... vehicle emissions cause 10 times as many deaths as accidents.'"
  7. ^ Cassini, Martin (October 2007). "No Idle Matter" (PDF). UK International Press, Traffic Technology International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 November 2010. As [Professor Roy Colvile of Imperial College] says, "a car moving at constant low speed uses very little more fuel than it does when idling." In the shared-space model, as vehicles filter at virtual tick-over revs, they are getting somewhere. But in the standard traffic management model, as they idle and get nowhere fast, they use a quarter of the fuel and emit a quarter of the CO2. When they restart, engine revs – along with fuel use and CO2 – reach a peak.
  8. ^ "The case against traffic lights, by Martin Cassini". Newsnight. 14 January 2008. "No rules? It would be anarchy!" Peaceful anarchy. Live and let live. Like a skateboard park, where teens of all stripes nod each other on and merge in harmony.
  9. ^ "Lights out at Portishead traffic junction". The Bristol Evening Post. 15 September 2009. The trial was influenced by Martin Cassini ... who produced a documentary which was shown to North Somerset Council. Mr Cassini said: "If you remove priority, you remove the "need" for speed and allow everyone to do what's natural ... watch the road and filter safely.'"[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Consultant and film producer team up to 'push boundaries' of junction controls". TransportXtra. 17 July 2009. Keith Firth, Buchanan's director of traffic, has teamed up with Martin Cassini who made headlines when he wrote a report arguing that urban traffic would flow more smoothly if many traffic signals were removed.
  11. ^ "Removing traffic engineering control – the awkward truth?" (PDF). TEC Magazine.
  12. ^ "Traffic lights campaigner welcomes Bristol switch-off". Bristol Evening Post. 7 November 2009. His work has also influenced the trial switch-off being carried out by Westminster Council and he backed the Evening Post Put That Light Out Campaign.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Cassini, Martin (June 2010). "The Real WMD". Blackwell, Oxford (Institute of Economic Affairs). doi:10.1111/j.1468-0270.2010.01997.x. Even in the absence of other elements required to make this [traffic lights-off trial] work properly – including a culture change from priority to equality, and streetscape redesign to communicate that equality, there are unprompted improvements.
  14. ^ "International Advisory Council". and New Mobility Agenda. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • [1] Colin Buchanan -"The effect of removing traffic control regulations at road junctions in the UK"
  • [2] SSRN Author Page