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Kinda crazy??

March 10, 2011

 

Alnwick, England – There are ideas that on a first pass seem, well crazy….

Then there are ideas that on a second pass seem, well completely barmy. Here are a couple of examples, see what you think.

Maria Eagle MP, who? Ms Eagle is the UK Labour Party, the opposition, Shadow Transport  Secretary. Struggling to come up with a way of revitalising her Party’s standing among riders and drivers, who had charged the Labour Party of “waging war on the motorist” while in Government, Ms Eagle had a brain wave, at least one of her researchers did. The idea, Ms Eagle suggested using the UK network of average speed cameras to incentivise riders and drivers into observing the law.

Ms Eagle proposed that the data from the cameras be used to enter those who were found not to be speeding into a lottery with prizes such as discounts on  vehicle excise duty (VED). Ms Eagle is quoted as saying that this idea could be: “an incentive for good behaviour which is perhaps better psychologically than a disincentive for bad behaviour” i.e. a fine. This scheme has one slight flaw, the speeding fines would have to be used to pay for the discounts that way the lottery would be revenue neutral. Err revenue neutral means no cash for the Treasury so that ones out the window, or is it!

Then we have trees. Somewhere in deepest Norfolk the Norfolk County Council road safety team, hi Ian, and the UK Department for Transport decided to try the idea that planting trees along side roads slows down traffic. This is based on the principal that riders and drivers drop their speed if their peripheral vision is reduced, in this case by the trees.

Now the first question here is the simple one, is speeding a problem in Norfolk? Well I’ve been to Norfolk, and it was closed! Over and above that Norfolk folk don’t appear to speed. It’s no more than 25mph in town and possible 40mph on the open road and that’s with the wind behind them. The theory is that they just cant think fast enough so they overcompensate. That’s normal for Norfolk!

Anyway back to the trees. After waiting for them to grow for a couple of years, well this is Norfolk, and a suitable large expenditure on an independent research  programme its been announced that planting trees at the side of the road, in  Norfolk that is, resulted in a 20 per cent drop in the number of motorists driving at 40 to 60mph, plus overall average speeds fell by 1.5 per cent. Not only that but the trees look nicer than other traffic calming measures and  Mike “the bike” Penning, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, hailed the idea as an  “imaginative solution to cut speeding on rural roads leading into villages rather than just resorting to cameras” i.e. its cheap.

Now as someone who likes to keep an eye on things road safety wise I seem to recall it was only three ish years ago that a group of road safety officers in the East of England, was it Norfolk, got a bee in their road safety bonnets about creating run off areas at the side of rural roads. The idea being to cut the number of riders and drivers who were crashing into err trees.

After some serious thought I’ve cottoned on to what’s happing here. 1) You cut down the trees to provide a run off area. 2) You wait a year. 3) You plant some trees. 4) You wait four years. 5) You cut down the trees to provide a run off area. 6) You repeat the procedure from point 2). You flog off the trees and use the cash to fund err planting the trees. Thus on a five year cycle the road safety officers have a rolling campaign and a limitless supply of firewood. Very handy for those freezing cold Norfolk winters!

Possible the only common sense comment on this one comes from that sometime sage of road safety Robert Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Transport Safety, who said: “trees are not necessarily an alternative to speed cameras. Clearly you don’t want people driving into them and killing themselves.”

Right I’m off for a head massage.

Ride safe, and watch out for the trees.

© Back Roads Rider 2011

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