BUSINESS AS USUAL
MAY 2004, BANBURY ROAD, SUMMERTOWN, OXFORD, ENGLAND

DESCRIPTION

A CHEAP AND EFFECTIVE TEMPORARY CROSSING, FEATURING 'CORPSES' IN THE STREET. SQUASHED PEDESTRIANS ARE CONSIDERED 'BUSINESS AS USUAL' IN BRITAIN, SINCE LITTLE IS DONE TO STOP THE CARNAGE.


MATERIALS

BALLOONS, PLASTIC DRAINPIPES,WHITE TAPE, OLD CLOTHES, MELONS


BUDGET

£25


CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE

1 DAY PREP, 1 HOUR BUILD


DESCRIPTION

Banbury Road is a two-way road with one lane in both directions which bisects a busy shopping district in North Oxford. Along one side of it, there is a long island which separates the main road from a smaller side lane off of which are parallel parking places (see top photo). There is an extremely narrow bicycle lane along the east side of the road going into town and no cycle lane going the other way, and the cycle lane is interrupted for bus stops.

Along either end of Summertown, with about a fifth of a mile in between them, stand two pelican crossings. In order to cross the streets to go from one shop to another, pedestrians are expected to walk all the way to the parade of shops (up to a four minute walk from the centre of the shopping district) and then wait for the pelican to change to green man. Then it could be up to another four minutes to walk up to the desired shop on the other side of the road. So, obeying the rules, one is expected to take 10 minutes just to cross a two-lane road.

On a normal shopping day, pedestrians usually choose to cross the street without going to the trouble of walking way over to one of the pelican crossings (and who could blame them) and choose instead to jaywalk.

There are no zebra crossings in all of Summertown. Presumably this is because the City Highways Authorities doesn't want pedestrians to get ideas above their station, lest they start demanding equal amenities to those offered to car owners.

So, to redress this balance, a fake zebra crossing was constructed along the central section of Banbury Road using about GBP20 of materials, including white tape, plastic drainpipes, yellow balloons, some old clothes, and two overripe melons. This represents 0.1% of the cost of an 'official' crossing which differs from the fake only insofar as it would last somewhat longer and light up, as well as involve more road markings.

The fake zebra crossing was instantly put to use by pedestrians. Most of the motorists participated in the piece by giving way to pedestrians, although there were a few who clearly didn't want to play the game.

Volunteers were stationed at either end of the crossing to ensure that the infirm, partially sighted, and inattentive pedestrians were made aware that this was indeed not a genuine zebra crossing and that they should not be surprised if cars pay absolutely no attention to the fact that the pedestrians were waiting to use a public space that motorists assume belongs to them, and to violate this status quo was potentially lethal. Thus, "Business As Usual".

In the end, the greatest danger was posed by the slippery smushed melons. Once this was identified as a safety hazard, the remains of the melons were removed from the crossing. Oddly enough, most users of the crossing chose to trod upon the 'corpses' rather than step to one side or over them.

Stagecoach and the Oxford Bus Company had previously sent heavies around to 'have a word' on a previous Road-Witch Trial where Mr Dewan acted as a lollipop man and stopped traffic to allow pedestrians to cross. On the occasion of 'Business As Usual', no heavies were sent down, as the responsibility for slowing down traffic was spread out amongst hundreds of people.

The Thames Valley Police were seen to drive over the crossing no less than six times.

THE 'CROSSING' ON BANBURY ROAD

FRESHLY SQUASHED MELON-HEADS, A FAMILY CONTEMPLATES USING THE CROSSING

A BIT DISTURBING TO SEE ONE'S OWN FAMILY'S OLD CLOTHES STREWN ABOUT THE ROAD

LET'S GIVE IT A GO

STRANGELY COMPULSIVE NEED TO TROD UPON THE CORPSES BY MANY PEDESTRIANS

WATER WAS NECESSARY TO KEEP THE CLOTHES FROM FLYING AWAY

MELONS GOT A BIT SLIPPERY AFTER AWHILE

MOST DRIVERS PARTICIPATED IN THE PIECE, EVEN THE BUS DRIVERS