"Who dares to stand up to the motorists?"

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by Just Zis Guy, Mar 3, 2003.

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  1. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    Article from the Grauniad <http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,839484,00.html> about
    Gwyneth Dunwoody standing up to the Provisional ABD.

    Who dares to stand up to the motorists?

    Catherine Bennett Thursday November 14, 2002 The Guardian

    As the BBC's Great Britons publicity stunt is reminding us, ideas about what constitutes greatness
    vary from age to age, year to year, even from week to week. Some of those who have voted for
    Princess Diana may already want to rethink on account of her poor taste in jokes, something newly
    revealed by a palace custard-maker. Others may feel that any favourite of Michael Portillo's must
    necessarily forfeit all claims to greatness, even if she happens to be Queen Elizabeth I. As for me,
    I can hardly take seriously a list that does not feature my own current idol, Gwyneth Dunwoody.

    True, the chairman of the Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions has not,
    like Diana (currently number two), done much for the House of Versace. And at this stage in her
    career she seems unlikely, like Michael Crawford (number 17), to make her mark in Andrew Lloyd
    Webber's Phantom of the Opera. Instead, Dunwoody now fills the infinitely more testing role of being
    the only person in the government prepared to stand up to motorists.

    For this, as you might imagine, she receives few thanks. "I am used to receiving letters that refer
    to me as an antisocial old socialist bitch - and to that I might even plead guilty," she said,
    opening a Commons debate on speed last month. "I see no reason to discount any such gentle
    descriptions of my character." Many of the letters, she went on, were intensely personal "in that
    they argued that as we must have cars, we must be able to drive them as fast as we like and, in many
    instances, we must not comply with the more irritating rules of the road, the deliberate purpose of
    which is to restrict the motorist".

    Unlike Dunwoody, who recently evaded a government attempt to evict her from the select committee,
    these dashing drivers and their friends in the media are terrifically popular with the government.
    Last year it all but apologised for spoiling their fun. The motoring lobby had been protesting, like
    so many schoolboys banned from baking their conkers, that concealed speed cameras were a rotten
    swizz. Or, as the AA put it, "unfair". The Sun said they were "sneaky". They did not, drivers
    complained, give them a "sporting chance" of slowing down, before speeding off again. Presumably
    agreeing that the roads are not so much a public highway as a giant obstacle race, in which speed
    controls are merely a challenge that any feisty libertarian will find it a positive pleasure to
    overcome, the government agreed that speed cameras should be painted bright yellow, to give
    motorists a chance to outwit them. The Sun newspaper congratulated itself on a job well done. That
    old killjoy, Dunwoody, on the other hand, pointed out that householders do not, in a similarly
    sporting spirit, place notices reading, "'If you burgle here, you will be in a certain amount of
    difficulty'. We assume that people know that they will be in trouble if they break the law." The
    pressure group, Transport 2000 is now seeking a judicial review of the government's decision,
    claiming that it "just migrates crashes from one place to another". And at transport conference this
    week, a senior Thames Valley police officer also called for the government to reconsider, pointing
    out that, "This is not a game. A sense of fair play should not get into this."

    And, thanks to the government and the motoring lobby, a sense of fair play never does prevail. The
    car always wins. British pedestrians, particularly child pedestrians, may be the ones who suffer
    most from inadequate speed management: their death rate here is one of the worst in Europe.

    But it is British motorists who represent themselves as uniquely "beleaguered" or "hard-pressed" -
    albeit, living - victims of oppressive transport policies. Why, they say, some loony green
    extremists even claim that cars damage the environment, a charge that is indignantly refuted on the
    website of the Association of British Drivers. "Is man-made global warming proved?" it demands; "The
    answer is a resounding 'no'". Which makes it all the more unfair, it goes on, that "Man-made global
    warming, albeit non-existent, has been seized on by politicians to justify anti-car policies from
    high fuel duty to road tax schemes and all points in-between."

    But, credit where it's due, New Labour politicians are different. As Dunwoody's committee pointed
    out in June, when it recommended much tougher deterrents to speeding, Blair is terrified of seeming
    anti-car. The suspicions of Tory voters having been allayed, it is the unofficial, but more
    threatening party of motorists who must now be cajoled and reassured.

    Last month, with the government still sticking up for the officially-customised, distinctly
    avoidable speed camera, Dunwoody once again pointed out the curious way in which deaths on the road
    - 3,450 last year - seem, somehow, to strike the public as less significant than other kinds of
    transport fatalities, the 32 deaths on the railways last year, for example. "It is," she said, "as
    if the great hand of God has fallen on them to bring down some well-deserved punishment... "
    Whereas, as any half-way sporting motorist could tell you, it's just that the best man won.
     
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  2. I'll admit, I didn't get very far reading that (always seems to happen with Guardian articles), but
    here are my comments:

    1) Speed cameras are legitimate.
    2) Speed cameras should be as visible as is deemed to be most beneifical to road safety. Some would
    be hidden, some overt. Blanket regulations such as the ABD and Transport 2000 propose won't work.
    3) The ABD and Transport 2000 are as bad as each other.
    4) "The car always wins. British pedestrians, particularly child pedestrians, may be the ones who
    suffer most from inadequate speed management" This one irritates me. Whilst I'm fine with speed
    cameras, and agree speed limits must be obeyed, I don't believe that speed poses that big a risk
    to me as a pedestrian. Racing through crossings, indicating incorrectly, mobile phone use, poor
    observation and plain selfishness seem to cause me many more problems that speed.

    I don't like either Transport 2000 or the ABD. Neither is prepared to accept the other sides mode of
    transport is equally valid, and that there must be a balance. For example, T2000 refuse to accept
    that this country needs some (though not that many, compared to rail) new and improved roads. The
    ABD refuse to accept we can't build for ever, and that more people need to use PT.

    One-track (road/path/cycleway/flying carpet (yes, I've heard that suggested as a solution by someone
    claiming to be a serious politician...)) policies don't work. We know that. Roads to prosperity
    didn't relieve congestion, neither did New Labour's "policies" before its road-building U-Turn,
    neither will it post u-turn.

    </rant
     
  3. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On Mon, 3 Mar 2003 19:16:56 -0000, "Nathaniel Porter" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >4) "The car always wins. British pedestrians, particularly child pedestrians, may be the ones who
    > suffer most from inadequate speed management" This one irritates me. Whilst I'm fine with speed
    > cameras, and agree speed limits must be obeyed, I don't believe that speed poses that big a risk
    > to me as a pedestrian.

    We do, however, have just about the worst child pedestrian fatality rate in Europe, and that despite
    having driven most of the children off the streets.

    >I don't like either Transport 2000 or the ABD.

    With you on that one :)

    Guy
    ===
    ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    dynamic DNS permitting)
    NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    work. Apologies.
     
  4. "Just zis Guy, you know?" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > On Mon, 3 Mar 2003 19:16:56 -0000, "Nathaniel Porter" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > >4) "The car always wins. British pedestrians, particularly child pedestrians, may be the ones who
    > > suffer most from inadequate speed management" This one irritates me. Whilst I'm fine with
    > > speed cameras, and agree
    speed
    > >limits must be obeyed, I don't believe that speed poses that big a risk
    to
    > >me as a pedestrian.
    >
    > We do, however, have just about the worst child pedestrian fatality rate in Europe, and that
    > despite having driven most of the children off the streets.
    >

    I don't deny the stats (though I'm cynical of them - they're still stats). However, I think the
    abolishion of road safety schemes such as the Tufty Club has alot to blame. I dare say we have one
    of the worst fatality rates regarding children on railways for similar reasons (I have no statistics
    to back this up BTW, just a guestimate and an opinion).

    > >I don't like either Transport 2000 or the ABD.
    >
    > With you on that one :)
    >

    Nice to see you care about *real* integrated transport :)
     
  5. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On Tue, 4 Mar 2003 00:32:44 -0000, "Nathaniel Porter" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Nice to see you care about *real* integrated transport :)

    I don't just care about it, I *do* it.
     
  6. Usenet

    Usenet Guest

    >4) "The car always wins. British pedestrians, particularly child pedestrians, may be the ones who
    > suffer most from inadequate speed management"

    >> This one irritates me. Whilst I'm fine with speed cameras, and agree speed limits must be
    >> obeyed, I don't believe that speed poses that
    big
    >> a risk to me as a pedestrian. Racing through crossings, indicating incorrectly, mobile phone
    >> use, poor observation and plain selfishness seem to cause me many more problems that speed.

    Well, seeing cars drive between 30-50 mph down small residential roads always frightens the
    willies out of me! Most drivers (or victims/casual passers-by) wouldn't stand much of a chance in
    an accident, definitely made worse by speed.

    --
    Martin @ Strawberry Hill
     
  7. James

    James Guest

    "Nathaniel Porter" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > 4) "The car always wins. British pedestrians, particularly child pedestrians, may be the ones who
    > suffer most from inadequate speed management" This one irritates me. Whilst I'm fine with speed
    > cameras, and agree speed limits must be obeyed, I don't believe that speed poses that big a
    > risk to me as a pedestrian. Racing through crossings, indicating incorrectly, mobile phone use,
    > poor observation and plain selfishness seem to cause me many more problems that speed.

    You seem to have slightly misread this section of the article. It says that peds/child peds suffer
    the most from inadequate speed management. You seem to have read that as saying that most of the
    suffering of peds/child peds is a result of inadequate speed management. These two are statements
    are not the same thing. Further, you appear (and this is to some extent implicit in what you
    write) to be focusing on the risks of being struck by vehicles as the only risk that is being
    suffered, which neglects effects such as social exclusion, loss of mobility/play areas, noise,
    pollution and so on.

    best wishes james
     
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