Speeding to a conclusion when the numbers do not add up

Croydon resident ANTHONY MILLER is concerned about speed limits. What’s worrying him are suggestions of reducing the speed limit to 20mph

Hidden away in the Tweets of our local councillors are many controversial policy ideas. The ones that the Milibands and Camerons occasionally touch on, but only with a very long barge pole indeed.

Afraid a policy may stink nationally? Delegate the powers to local authorities, then pick off the lobby groups authority by authority … This is called localism (or “salami tactics”).

So I was perusing Twitter the other day when I spotted Labour councillor Sean Fitzsimons of Addiscombe plugging the alliterative and patronising slogan “20 is Plenty”.

He followed this up with a new and interesting mathematical conundrum – that “20 is the new 30”. For those of you who don’t know…

… see this video in which Rod King, the founder of “20’s plenty where people live” and his acolytes explain to people like me who “tell him they drive fast but haven’t hurt anybody” that “speed just becomes greed”, while simultaneously arguing that it’s a good idea for local activists to lobby their council to bring in 20mph zones because it will “increase the value of our homes”.

He also explains the difference in survival rates between collisions at 30 miles an hour and 20mph with the help of a film about collisions at 40mph and 20mph.

So, on Twitter, I asked Councillor Fitzsimons derisively, “And I’m meant to get to gigs on time how? Maybe I should get a man to walk in front with a flag too?” After all there have been so many accidents since the Locomotive Act of 1865… let’s bring back horses? I feel I have the authority to be this sarcastic as while I might not be the funniest comedian on the circuit, I do have 36 less points on my licence than Omid Djalili.

Fitzsimons responded that I could still get to my gigs, “Hopefully by public transport. Seriously, main arterial routes would be exempt as run by TFL”.

I can’t travel to my comedy gigs – which see me at work until well past 11pm many nights – by public transport. By the time most out-of-town gigs are finished, Thomas the Tank Engine is curled up in his sidings with a warm mug of hot engine oil.

Fitzsimons assured me that “20mph zones would only apply to local residential roads, not motorways or major routes”. But what is a local residential road and what is a “major route”? Tricky question on such an overcrowded island?

For example, when road humps came in we were told they were only going to be on minor roads. So what are they doing on Gypsy Hill Road? True, it is a steep hill, but looking at the 20 is plenty website, I saw that actually, while there’d been injuries along there, there hasn’t actually ever been a fatality ever?

A similar conundrum that I haven’t understood for years is how Stoats Nest Road in Purley is regarded as a B road and therefore has no humps but adjoining Hartley Down Road, which connects to the end of Old Lodge Lane, is not regarded as a B road. Neither road has any fatalities. I think it’s completely random.

Lots of our road network is a complex mess of inter-connecting webs of roads many of which were not designed as “main arteries” or “residential streets” but …well… just another road? Look at central London with it’s what-was-once-a-grid-structure on top of which was added on half a gyratory. Why isn’t The Mall a residential street? It clearly has palaces on it.

When I started down these lines Fitzsimons came out with his killer one-liner “and what about the additional lives that will be saved? That’s not an issue for you”.

Where will the 20mph zones be imposed in Croydon, Anthony Miller wants to know

A gold standard causal simplification. Except, of course, that opinion is divided between those who say the zones are safer, and those that say it makes little difference.

The study in Portsmouth to which Fitzsimons referred me actually showed that the number of deaths went up following the introduction of blanket 20mph zones although the number of accidents went down. I’m sure there’s a Harry Hill routine in that. I like children living but I dislike accidents … Still what do facts and data matter when children might die?

As Fitzsimons informed me, “glad to know your views on this issue. Self interest trumps community need”.

Truthfully, conclusive statistical analysis either way is probably impossible on the small data samples currently available but local traffic authorities now have the power to introduce 20mph speed limits and zones without obtaining consent from the Secretary of State LibDem Norman Baker, who doesn’t want to get his hands dirty in case it turns out to be a disaster so…

So I raised the suggestion that maybe I would be willing to drive at 20 if the government were willing to compensate me for the extra man hours it would take to get places? Yet to be offered a rebate on my Council Tax.

Even if I was to agree with Councillor Fitzsimons’ point that there is “conclusive proof 20 zones work”, there’s still the question of what do you mean by “work”? Surely we should be aiming to drive quickly and safely, not just safely?

The 20’s plenty website seems to know that this is it’s Achilles heel because it amusingly reassures motorists that “it is very rare that you can travel at a constant speed of 30mph. Bends, blind spots, parked cars, junctions, pedestrian crossings, cars turning right, traffic lights and many more things mean that you have to slow down or stop very often”. So what other freedoms that I am unable to enjoy do they wish to delete? According to 20’s Plenty, “40 seconds is the maximum expected increase in journey times”.

Even if that’s true it’s not insignificant – imagine if a politician said train journeys would all now be 40 seconds longer?

Never mind… as their Professor Danny Dorling explains of 20mph zones “it’s the cheapest possible thing you can do”. Clever man – he knows his politicians.

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24 Responses to Speeding to a conclusion when the numbers do not add up

  1. As ever the devil is in the detail.

    You hit the nail on the head when you asked ‘But what is a local residential road and what is a “major route”?’. Obviously TfL roads are not residential streets. If it helps I do not consider the road called Gipsy Hill to be a residential road. However, some roads off it, such as Becondale Road, I would consider are residential roads.

    The criteria I would use would be ‘does the road provide a reasonable link between main roads?’. Certainly each road needs to be treated individually to decide if a 20mph limit should apply.

    Another criteria I would use is if there are lots of parked cars in the road then I would want to seriously consider a 20mph limit. It is difficult for pedestrians to safely cross amongst parked cars and for car drivers to see those pedestrians in sufficient time.

    What are not wanted are humps regardless of the class of road. Speeds can be restricted by many other techniques than humps. Road humps are uncomfortable, even at the legal speed, for passengers, particularly bus passengers.

    Peter Staveley
    UKIP Croydon

  2. cowanglobal says:

    We have a similar problem here in Nottingham (as do others around the country). The real issue here is a generation of politicians (local and national) who have grown up without understanding strategy and therefore confusing tactics with strategy. For an explanation as it relates to the ’20 is plenty’ argument please see my blog of 16th July ‘Speeding to Action Before Thinking About Strategy’ (http://cowanglobal.com/2012/07/16/speeding-to-action-before-thinking-about-strategy/).

  3. blath8 says:

    I do still marvel that the idea of a compulsory retest every 5 or 10 years has never been adopted.

    However hugely unpopular it would be, it would improve the standard of driving without a doubt and generate more funds for the DVLA. Better driving = less accidents.

    There really isn’t much point in driving if the majority of roads are going to be 20mph but would it really be the best option if large numbers of people decided over time not to buy cars (no tax or insurance or loans to pay, no parking tickets to buy or fines to pay, all affecting the economy)? Would the public transport system cope? And would it really mean less deaths on the roads?

    Perhaps some, but having driven and cycled on these roads for many years, I see the familiar ‘speed-up’ syndrome as I call it, all the time. At the end of the speed limited area, or once clear of the speed camera demarcation lines on the road, speed up as quick as possible. I do it too. And if I really pedal hard with a good tail-wind and downhill slope, I’m sure I could pip 20mph …..


  4. Labour Islington Council has just become a 20 mph borough except on TfL controlled roads. This builds on a number of zones that had been in place for a number of years – in which time road deaths have fallen from 227 in 2001 to 77 in 2009.
    Read more here: http://www.islington.gov.uk/services/parking-roads/street_improvements/Pages/20mph_limit.aspx
    Well done Cllr Fitzsimons, I hope to see it in the Labour manifesto for 2014.

  5. mraemiller says:

    I love the way you insinuate the fall in road deaths is all down to your 20mph zone which you’ve only just introduced when it is actually the fall in road deaths is a long-term national trend. Indeed it would almost seem as if motorists were actually being punished for driving more safely?

    And of course it is little wonder that people do not die on the road in park-and-ride-but-it-doesn’t-quite-work-at-night towns like Oxford and Brighton as it is more or less impossible to drive into the center of town even at night let alone during the day … of course it’s not completely impossible …but then neither is opening a Chinese puzzle box.

    It may be safer now in Islington but it’s not any great help if you want to drive to Highgate on a Sunday … which will take until 2014 when the speed limit everywhere is 20.

    So what’s the answer answer the central question – how is it decided what roads are TfL’s and what are the councils …? I notice on the 20’s plenty website they boast of at least one A road that’s a 20mph. Is that not the real future?

    • Anthony, if you opt to drive to Highgate via the residential sidestreets, then you don’t deserve to arrive there before 2015. And I don’t mean quarter past eight, either.

      I just hope you’re not a cab driver with the meter running, for the sake of any unsuspecting passenger you might have.

      What is obvious from everything I’ve seen is that the proposals are to introduce 20mph limits on residential roads – side streets if you like – while the arterial routes, those under the control of TfL, would in the main remain as they are.

      And given that other data regularly suggests that the average traffic speed in London today is 12mph, even if you do insist on taking a zig-zag route north of the River via residential streets, 20mph would seem to be an improvement.

      • mraemiller says:

        Actually I have driven to Highgate several times… sometimes even because I need to convey someone elderly and not in the best of health to a gig. Indeed some of the acts I gig with have such poor health the do fall off their perches… Also while it’s longer to drive to than it is to get to on the train it’s easier and faster getting back. Added to that I may have other errands to do on the way … or even be doubling up. There are many reasons why people go by car rather than train – a lot of acts car share as it’s simply more economic for 4 of you to share a car than one of you take the train very often. And lots of women drive to gigs simply because they’re afraid of running into Julian Assange down a dark sidestreet… I’ve often driven my girlfriend to her gigs when she was gigging simply because she didn’t fancy coming back at 11:30 alone when the pubs chuck out. Still you make everyone go on public transport then you’ll be doing your “why dont you book more women you’re sexist, Mr Miller” routine … well, lots of things put women off comedy and the travel problems are just one of them…

        Actually at the time of night I drive back from gigs … 30 mph is not impossible – there’s very little else on the roads. I mean you say no one drives everywhere on minor roads but one quite famous act once told me she was booked a gig through Mirth Control (this was several years ago) and the open spot driver who was 19 or something decided he was too scared to go on the motorway because he’d failed his test. So they attempted to drive to the midlands on A and B roads …got there two hours late by which time it was pulled and then drove home again. Fortunately this doesn’t happen very often but sometimes gigs do get pulled due to travel problems… Resulting in promoters trying to insist we leave earlier and earlier and earlier of telling us fat porkies like “my gig starts at 6:30”. The live circuit is dying a death at the moment due to the tripple dip recession… 20 mph zones wont help and outside London in the places I drive to there is no TfL to keep the main roads from being twentified. Of course it may not end up with 20 zones on main roads or have any huge effect but …

        …my chin is itching.

  6. cyclegaz says:

    A change from 20mph to 30mph is hardly going to make a difference when traveling in a town like Croydon. After all the average speed of a motor vehicle is more than likely going to be less than 20mph as it is, due to all the traffic lights and traffic. At 30mph, you just get to the next traffic queue that little bit quicker.

    I know this as I cycle regularly in Croydon and commute to work into central London. I’m always catching up with the cars in 30mph zones at the traffic lights.

    What’s more important? Having a nicer place to live or leaving that little bit earlier as you can’t drive as fast?

    Just look at Croydon. A 1960’s built urban motorway in some places, and it really isn’t nice for people to use outside of a motor vehicle.

  7. When you first mentioned gigs, I thought you might be a drummer or a heavy metal guitarist, in which case a Transit is the only option. But for stand-up, a different matter.

    Thing is, the road network in London is, most of the time, capacity constrained and not speed constrained.. your journey time is determined primarily by the number of other people using the road and the amount of road space available, not by how fast you can go (legally or otherwise).

    Road capacity is in fact inversely proportional to speed – decreasing speed means you can get more cars per hour through a bit of road – at slower speeds, you can bunch up tighter, and a 20mph limit increases the road’s safe operating capacity by 15%. Sure, you can run beyond safe capacity if you factor in some tolerance for low-speed crashes (a 10mph rear-ender in a modern car is unlikely to be life-threatening, after all), but that assumes everyone on the road is in the same kind of vehicle. And if what you care about is predictability of journey time, rather than absolute speed, bear in mind the major jams that collisions cause – especially when somebody dies & the Police have to close the road for hours to investigate – from that point of view, a safer network is a more predictable one. I don’t really care if it takes me an hour to drive to Heathrow instead of 45 minutes, what’s important is reducing the likelihood of it taking 2 hours because some poor soul has wrapped themselves round a lamppost on the A214. If I know it takes an hour, I can allow an hour. If it might take 40 minutes or two hours.. what use is that 20 minutes I’ve saved?

    Which is why I mostly get around London by bike, and so many others are choosing to. It’s not in every case the fastest (though if anyone knows a route from Crystal Palace to London Bridge by car that will take less than 20 minutes, legally, I’m all ears) but it sure is predictable. Thing is, as I’m sure you’re aware, mixing bikes with 30mph main road traffic (especially Croydon “30” traffic, which mostly seems to do 40 given the chance) is a recipe for disaster. If you want mixed traffic to run at 30, you need to put in cycle lanes & various junction alterations, which reduce road capacity => potentially more congestion. If you think we should all drive all the time instead.. well, that’s not going to help congestion much either.

    There are so many reasons to support a blanket London-wide 20mph (with the exception of true urban motorways – Westway, A12 etc.), but I’ll leave you with a couple of final thoughts.

    Highgate is 14 miles from Croydon. At a constant 20mph, that’d take 40mins. At a constant 30, it’d be 28. So the *absolute worst case* journey time impact from a London-wide 20mph is a not-exactly-life-ruining 12 minutes. In the real world, where your average speed is likely to be about 15mph, it will add 5 minutes to an hour-long journey.

    A few very poor statisticians have noted that the absolute number of accidents in 20mph zones has increased recently. To paraphrase a friend who is much more knowledgeable on the subject than I.. before they introduced the NHS, 0 people per year died in NHS hospitals. Now tens of thousands die in them every year.. THAT MUST MEAN THE NHS ARE MASS MURDERERS! Hope it makes sense 🙂

    • mraemiller says:

      You’ve entirely missed the point. I’m not driving for an hour or 45 minutes. I might be driving for 3 or 3 and a half hours. So every 5 to 10 minutes extra does count to me. If I just started putting more an more minutes on your working day you’d want a rational and well argued explanation as to why. If you had to effectively pick up the bill you too would want an explanation.

      Also the vision of a world where all motorists drive at 20 to even-out-the-traffic flow as “this will make everthing flow better” is a load of pastures if you ask me. Even if it was true it is simply counter-intuitive to people to drive in this way to level that I think it would be completely impractical.

      Clearly the cycle lobby has an interest in reducing the speed limit. Well, I have an interest in keeping it where it is. I’m not cloaking my self-interest I’m being totally upfront about it. My point is not that the policy is completely stupid but that it’s being implemented without any real policy debate in an illogical and patchwork fashion.

      • angusfx says:

        If you’re driving, for profit, for 3-3.5 hours every day on suburban residential roads, I’m afraid I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy. Incidentally, I’m not some hippie communist.. I run a business & while we have to deal with all manner of BS rules and regs, as long as everybody plays by them it’s a level field at least. Society gets to decide the terms under which businesses are allowed to operate.

        As it goes, I’m not for slowing everything down.. fine with higher limits on motorways when traffic density permits – 70 on the M1 at 1am is as stupid as 70 on the M25 when it’s nose-to-tail at rush hour. But I can’t agree with it being counter-intuitive to drive at 20.. it’s all just learned habits, same as 40 feels like a glacial crawl when you’ve just come off the motorway, or terrifyingly fast on a bicycle.

        Yesterday it took me an hour to drive ten miles across SW London, on 30mph main roads. I could have done it in half that on my road bike, easily.. and indeed, that’s what I usually do. But had the kids with me, so not an option. I also could have done it in an hour on a cargo bike, with kids and luggage on the front, and burned off a Sunday roast’s worth of calories at the same time. But that option is denied to me, because the roads simply aren’t safe enough.. there’s absolutely no way I’m taking children out on a 30 road without the protection of a car, just not happening. So you see, because I don’t have that option, I’m adding to the jams along with everyone else. I’m not in the cycle lobby for the sake of it, or for some abstract reason to do with polar bears, but because local & national government policies deny me from making the choices I’d like to have about how to move around the city.

        As to the democratic deficit.. to some extent I agree, but did you know that Croydon’s current Conservative administration were elected on a manifesto that explicitly rules out any further traffic calming or 20mph zones? And that they’re sticking to it, to the extent that getting a Zebra crossing put in outside a school is considered somehow difficult? Democracy in action – you get what you vote for! I for one am glad Labour are supporting 20mph, it gives residents a choice. And also glad that it’s devolved to local level, as different parts of the country have clearly different needs and priorities. For example, in boroughs like Southwark & Lambeth, where 20mph is already implemented or on the way, a lot of the kids in high density housing areas don’t have gardens (& their families often don’t have cars), so enabling street play through heavy duty traffic calming, keeping out through traffic etc. is good for the community & good for social justice. Whereas that argument would make a lot sense somewhere like Selsdon.

    • mraemiller says:

      Also “When you first mentioned gigs, I thought you might be a drummer or a heavy metal guitarist, in which case a Transit is the only option. But for stand-up, a different matter.”

      I’m not just a stand-up I’m also a promoter so sometimes I have equiment to move. Of course I can leave it all in the venue but then there’s the danger of it getting lost and/or stolen. We’ve just lost several hundred flyers and 3 posters. There’s the amplification equipment… Most of the time it lives in the venue my sometimes our CEO Mr Damage needs more equipment like guitars and switching boxes so he regularly drives in. There are lots of people with legitimate business needs to drive into or through central London.
      The bottom line is if you make journey times slower you will make it harder for people from south London to gig north of London. That’s just simple and obvious…. isn’t it?

    • mraemiller says:

      Actually I have too say too Gypsy Hill isn’t statistically a “death trap”. You say I’m awful because I complain no accidents have actually happened there YET but look at say Portland Road … completely straight road, slight incline …3 fatalities. If you were putting traffic calming measures on roads based on the level of accidents that actually happened I’d start there. Actually looking at the map many of the places that accidents happen seem to me to be counter intuative … they’re not actually where I expected them to be.

      Sorry but I dont think Gypsy Hill is actually as dangerous as it LOOKS. Whereas other roads that dont look dangerous are … probably because they’re easier to drive so drivers pay less attention?

      • angusfx says:

        I don’t think you’re awful, don’t take it personal :o) just that a) actual deaths isn’t the best measure of how dangerous a particular setup is, b) a “safe” road in terms of accident rates can fail in so many other ways. Those pedestrian guard rail “cages” that used to be on every busy traffic island in the West End? Safe. Anti-climb barriers down the middle of the high street in Battersea? Safe. The question is more one of whether it’s appropriate to contain people in crummy metal cages in the middle of our tourist landmarks, or to put a barrier down the middle of a high street so that through traffic can keep moving but the people who actually live & shop there can’t get from one side to the other.

        As it goes I’m not a massive fan of the Gipsy Hill speed humps either, in some ways they’ve even made things worse downhill on a bike (either have to ride too close to parked car doors, or right out in the middle playing chicken with oncoming traffic) & they don’t seem to actually stop speeders.

  8. “I saw that actually, while there’d been injuries along there, there hasn’t actually ever been a fatality ever?”

    This sums up this dreadful post. Your utter casual attitude to serious injuries and fatalities. Not only do you not see injuries as a problem, you effectively advocate that danger should be ignored until someone has been killed there. That’s the death of a lot of people you’re advocating london wide.

    Gypsy Hill is a death trap. If you drive down that hill at greater than 20mph even while the limit is set at 30 you should be seeing some points on your licence for not selecting a more reasonable speed for the conditions.

    Limits are limits, they are not targets nor are they suggestions. Steep hill, narrows towards the bottom and has loads of pedestrians due to the station.

    You need to be SO careful here, yet the presence of traffic calming measures suggests that motorists could not be trusted to assess the situation and lower their speeds to 20 by choice, so the council was forced to intervene.

    20mph needs to become the norm to make places safe, calm and pleasant for residents, pedestrians, cyclists and children. I’ve met too many parents who have outlived their children due to road collisions recently, would really appreciate it if you could stop speaking out against safety measures that will stop this.

    • mraemiller says:

      Not exactly. My point is that a primary argument deployed by 20 is plenty is the emotive use of the word death to justify its policy of making more and more roads 20 instead of 30. But actually if you look at the statistics closely no one has actually died.

      Actually as an experiment i tried driving down Gypsy Hill at 20 mph several times. What happened is that everyone tried to tailgate or overtake me – which is arguably more dangerous than me driving at 25-30. If you want drivers to actually respect these 20 mph zones rather than attempting dangerous overtakes and tailgating then you have to make the road narrow enough or too difficult to overtake on – which it isn’t. What has happened is that previously if Councils wanted to make a 20 mph zone the council used to have to put in traffic calming measures like humps or narrow the roads. Now they dont have to …they just have to stick up a 20 sign which is cheaper but not as effective.

      You say my attitude to death and injury is casual …well … let’s put it this way …I like a certain lifestyle and inherant in that is more risk than possibly the average person would like to take. If you drive around between 11pm and 2 am that’s actually the peek time for accidents on our roads precisely because there’s nothing else on the road and everyone thinks “great I can speed”. So just by being out driving at time regularly driving about I am living a life with more risk in it than most people would care to take even if I decide to drive carefully and slowly. I could not drive at this time – I could stay at home and watch telly … but it’s not exactly what I’d call living.

      It is precisely because I actually do drive a lot and dont break the speed limits that this bothers me. I dont think the irresponsible drivers of Britain are actually going to modify their behaviour. I know several people who drive EVERYWHERE at near 40 and just slow down for speed camera … they never seem to get caught. It is twits like me who actually obey the laws who have to deal all the time with a load of morons attempting dangerous overtakes on us … the last thing I want is to have to drive slower and be subject to more dangerous overtakes.

      You cant actually enforce laws unless the public agree to them what actually happens is that instead the law becomes a joke and uneforcable.

      • angusfx says:

        But you don’t have to die for the risk of death to change your behaviour.. which in turn changes the purpose of the street. If the street is dangerous, people remove themselves from it.. it was never decided that way, motorways aside, it just sort of happened.

        A 70mph motorway is pretty safe provided you don’t walk along it.. and nobody does.. but it’s awful as a place to be, it has no other purpose than to move as much traffic as fast as possible. Is that really what you want suburban high streets to be? I’m of the opinion that they should be places first & foremost, people need to respect the geographical fact of living in a city of 6-and-whatever million, most of the rest of the country you’d have to drive half an hour at 60 to reach the next big population center over, here it’s twenty minutes on the bus.

  9. I endorse everything that Angus and Kristian said.

    I also believe this document, prepared by Copenhagenize, sums up the argument for lower speeds very well- in this case 30kph: http://docs.google.com/open?id=0B5gu3TjNOYYbOUFHbjhpeFo2dWs

    • mraemiller says:

      I dont believe it’s all about safety either. I notice a lot of these people wittering on about fostering communities and such nonsense. Well, I hate to break it to you but I’m not a communal person and I dont want to be socially engineered and I dont feel to blame for other people’s irresponsibility. Yes, we all know people who died on the roads. But lets face it some of them it was their own fault? Yes, some people die on the roads but cars also give people freedom. Too many of our freedoms are deleted on the basis that there might be a risk. And if a few people have to die so that I can have the freedom to get away from you lot that’s a price worth paying in my view… But it’s the complete denial that there is a price to pay for this change in lifestyle that is so vexing. Of course there is. It’s like banning smoking in pubs. I dont miss emptying ash trays and I dont want smoke in pubs back it made them grotty and awful places to work… However, anyone who says that it didn’t have a huge and damaging long term economic impact on the pub industry that had to pick up the tab is just telling BLACK LIES.

      Everything in life has a price it’s just a matter of whether or not you’re willing to pay it. You are – I’m not. Also it is 2012 – there must be other solutions? You could put GPS systems in people’s cars to monitor bad drivers. You could even put limiters in people’s cars to force them to not speed. Particularly if they’re bad drivers. The technology exists. This is not science fiction. Making everyone pootle about at 20 is the cheapest possible solution for the government and the most expensive possible solution for business.

      Hidden at the end of your lovely document is your true agenda

      “The results from cities around the world are clear. in september 2012, the
      european parliament approved a recommendation to create 30 km/h zones in
      all residential areas. But if we want to make a difference, we need to make it

      When you’ve taken out the side roads you’ll go for the main roads.

      In other words you just hate people who travel by car.

      • angusfx says:

        A car’s a tool. An excellent one for a lot of things. Most cycle campaigners don’t hate them any more than they hate circular saws or power drills. Fact is though that if everyone uses an over-powered tool for every job, that has side-effects and consequences. In this case, those consequences include at worst absolute denial-of-access, and at best significant degradation of convenience & environment, to others who are using an arguably more appropriate tool.

        You’re speaking from a position of privilege, where roads are assumed to be “for cars” and any other use is marginal or incidental. Take away that assumption, and any argument based around the right to speed falls down – because by doing so, you’re denying somebody else the right to use the road with a reasonable feeling of safety.

        As it goes, the cheapest solution for my business, and for many local employers, is for their staff to be able to run, walk, cycle, scoot etc. in to work, in safety. People who get more fresh air and exercise take less time off sick. We all recognise there’s a cost – goods have to travel by road, we all drive when we have to – but the street’s a communal space, I’m fine with it taking a bit longer to get around town if it enables a more mixed, lively street environment – which in inner London boroughs like Southwark, Hackney, Islington, etc. it seems to be doing.

  10. You seem to think other people’s driving is very poor indeed! Tailgating and overtaking at 25-30 on Gypsy Hill! My gosh. These are severe problems. Being you find the driving of your fellow motorists so poor, pray do tell how you would bring them into line? Perhaps if we removed the speed limits then everybody would drive at a legal speed?

    • mraemiller says:

      I’m just telling you I pootle along at 30 and people regularly do dangerous overtakes on me … that’s the reality of me pootling along at 30. If I drove 20 when I didn’t have to that’s what would happen. I tried it on Gypsy Hill road and that’s what happened. More than once. And yes, it is dangerous to overake there but people will try it. We are discussing driving and fatalities on Gypsy Hill Road and the 20 limit on it. I think it’s impractical.

      Yes, I DO think other people’s driving IS very bad indeed. The difference between me and them is not that I’m a better person … it’s that they could probably afford to lose their licence. I just cant. So I drive within the speed limits.

    • mraemiller says:

      Anyway yes, I am making other points too.

      For instance that yes, if you want us all to travel by train it might help if the intercity trains didn’t stop dead on 10:30. You can do Birmingham by train from Croydon for £7 and Brighton for £3. Manchester for about £50 (up on the train back on the coach). But small towns that are not major population centers …?

      Also there’s a lot of technology for homeworking and I see loads of ill people on the commuter trains …surely they dont ALL need to be physically in the office at absolutely any cost? It’d free up the transport system if some them took the laptop to bed.
      However, some of us, yes we do need to PHYSICALLY be in another place and there is no actual substitute for going.

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