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The Average Rider……

February 17, 2010


Average speed cameras - road safety or idiots revenge?

Hastings, England – As predicted by Back Roads Rider five months ago average speed cameras are to be installed on the Cat and Fiddle.

Work begins in six days to install seven average speed cameras along the Cat and Fiddle, better know to non bikers as the A537 Macclesfield to Buxton road. The Cat is arguable one of the best riding roads in the UK but has been consistently identified by independent surveys as the ‘the most dangerous road in Britain’.

Part of a joint initiative between the Cheshire Safer Roads Partnership, Cheshire East Council, Derby and Derbyshire Road Safety Partnership and the Department for Transport the camera installation is yet another attempt to tame the Cat, which is a magnet for bikers. The past 10 years have seen the introduction of lower speed limits, high friction surfacing, high visibility warning signs, red warnings painted on the road, motorcycle-friendly safety barriers, enforcement signs, carriageway widening, mobile safety cameras and police operations. All this at a cost, including the latest camera installation, of close to 1 million pounds. The casualty rate. In the past nine years 178 motorcyclists have been killed or seriously injured on the Cat, that’s an average of 19 a year.

A run down on the technical’s. What’s going in on the Cat is almost certainly a Specs 3 type camera system. This is wireless with each camera connected to each other and a remote server. This means that any two cameras can measure average vehicle speeds, this more or less eliminates the possibility of running the system then waiting before the ‘last’ camera for time to elapse. It will feature both front and rear facing cameras to detect motorcycle offences. It has a day and night all-weather capability via infra-red or high intensity site lighting. It will work even if you ride on the ‘wrong side’ of the road. Each ‘installation’ is in fact two cameras. Both are high-definition digital cameras one is connected to the computer system running the number plate recognition software, the part that nicks you. While camera two is a wide angle high def colour system that constantly records activity on the road and can be both viewed and recorded remotely. Camera two is specifically designed to enforce moving traffic offences other than speeding. It’s also very handy for identifying ‘the gaffer tape plate’ biker or those who remove their number plates altogether.

The pub pundits, weekend warriors and forum fantasists have of course responded to the camera installation on the Cat with endless chatter about how to get around the system, vandalise it or where to go for a camera free balls out knee down thrash. I wonder where the ‘riders rights’ groups are? Hello British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) and Motorcycle Action Group (MAG). BRR knows you had representatives at the Cheshire Safer Roads Partnership consultations on this. So why didn’t you speak up for the majority, the sensible bikers, or at least get some publicity out to let the world know this was going to happen.

The idiots have won this one. Leaving the rest of us to wobble around Derbyshire more concerned about looking at the speedo than avoiding a crash. Will it work? Yes of course it will. After the initial rumours that it is all fake, the vandalism, the gaffer taped plates, the juvenile vids on You Tube the idiots and twats who use the Cat like a race track will be off somewhere else, migrating their crashes. Crashes on the Cat will drop to zero and the installation will be heralded as a great success and no doubt all concerned will get a nice road safety award.

In three years time ‘authority’ will once again catch up with the idiots on another road and install yet another average speed system. In six years time the whole of the Peak National Park will have an average speed system. In ten years time riding at anything other that the speed limit will be a distant memory. Speed will be consigned to the past, like  tales of 17th century travellers protecting themselves from ‘gentleman of the road’ with a prayer and good pair of ‘horse pistols’

© Back Roads Rider 2010

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    February 18, 2010 11:04 am

    The decision to put the cameras in is a political one because the C&F has been top of the EuroRAP dangerous roads rankings for a few years and certain councillors and MP’s want something done about it. It’s not really anything to do with actual casualties. 25% of the KSI’s occured at junctions, 15% of the KSI’s were attributed to exceeding the speed limit. Given that some of the bends on the route are 20 mph corners riders trying to average 50 mph will still be able to hit 100mph for a few seconds without getting caught. Cheshire have admitted that the cameras are their last resort, so what will happen if they don’t work?

    • backroadsrider permalink
      February 18, 2010 8:41 pm

      I’d take an informed guess that plan D will be road closure to motorcycles on specific days e.g. Sundays and Bank Holidays. The camera system being installed can be used for that type of enforcement. Sooner or later one of Partnerships will go for it, if only to set a precedent for the rest. Whoever does should be ok for that years Brake road safety award!

  2. AnonW permalink
    February 19, 2010 8:55 am

    I sympathise, but I don’t drive a bike. Never have done. But I do have a 1992 Lotus Elan, which I love to take fast on roads like the Cat & Fiddle. Although, I haven’t driven that road in years. The A68 was great fun a few weeks ago in the snow.

    The key is not enforcement and big sticks, but education and better driving/riding skills.

    Dave says that 25% of the KSIs occur at junctions. They should start there.


  1. Anonymous

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