con. Someone whines to their mate in the pub that they don't like
people going too fast along this stretch of road. Some political
weenie - no doubt up for re-election shortly - decides that these
two represent a significant proportion of the community. And besides,
s/he doesn't like these nasty, noisy motorcyclists either. So the
council decide to impose some speed restrictions. Now of course
if they just started arbitrarily imposing these things there'd be
a public outcry. Questions would be asked. No matter, though, there's
an easy way around that.
Call it a Road Safety Improvement.
Accident Reduction. Anything you like that makes anyone who questions
it appear to be some form of sociopath with a death wish. And of
course, because the speed limit is there for our own good, it makes
sense that it is rigorously enforced as well. And what better way
to do it that by a roadside camera?
So here you are. It's a
nice, clear day. Traffic is light, you and your bike are working
well together and you've just peeled onto your favourite piece of
A road. It's fast, well surfaced and visibility is good. In fact,
right now there are probably very few roads in the country which
are much safer. Except that half of it is now covered in white paint,
which is as slippery as hell, the speed limit is now 40 and there
are 3 new cameras along it. 1 of which is partly hidden. Like the
one on the right, on a recently speed limited road near Box Hill.
And yes, it is painted green to blend in with the hedge. Thought
that was illegal? Me too.
Ladies and gentlemen of the
jury, I put it to you that this form of Road Safety is a scam.
The most recent "Accident
Reduction Scheme" I've encountered is on a nice piece of bypass.
It's dual carriageway and the few nice sweepy bends on it are easily
taken at 70mph. In the 8 years I've been using it I've seen 2 accidents,
both of which have ended up with cars on their roof but,as far as
I am aware, no serious injuries. Almost without fail, these schemes
are little more than political weapons in the ongoing fight for
what passes for power in local government, coupled with a very convenient
way of generating some extra income.
They do not reduce accidents,
because they are usually in places where there were pretty few accidents
anyway. They don't ease congestion, unless shoehorning the traffic
which used to take two lanes into the one left is some new David
Copperfield style trick to make it all flow better. And they don't
make life easier for the Police, at who's door the unfortunate responsibility
for enforcing these ridiculous schemes rests and whose credibility
takes a hit every time they have to do so.
So what do they achieve?
Very little, it would seem. Except,
of course, for generating extra funds for your council to spend.
Not on roads, of course. Or rider training or anything else that
might actually deal with a cause of accidents generally rather than
concentrating on a non-existent black spot.
Proactive is a really popular
word in politics. So why don't our political servants (remember, they work for you, despite what they'd have you believe)
actually put your money where their mouths are and get proactive
about safety? Driver and rider training, pedestrian training, even
the old cycling proficiency test all have their part to play, as
do sensible road design and well planned and reasonably enforced
speed limits. But of course, these can cost money up front and have
no revenue generation potential. No matter that the Government at
all levels trumpet on about how much road accidents cost us each
year. Preventing those accidents (and thus saving all that money)
seems less attractive than enforcing stupid speed limits and coining
in the fines from fixed cameras.
If you think I'm talking through
my hat, hit the "Make a comment" link and tell me. But
if you agree, do something about it. Start making those people (they're
called Civil Servants for a reason) do what they're supposed to
do - listen to the wishes of the people they claim to represent.