Saturday, 20 September 2014

Need For Speed Reduction

I am not against cars. I have owned one for many years and there are many benefits to using them but they do have their problems. They kill people and cause road rage (with a little help from the drivers). They harm the environment. They raise stress levels even without road rage. They are particularly a problem in urban areas. Everyone in Morecambe and Lancaster will tell you about our traffic jams as we must have some of the best in the country.

In rural areas cars are often a necessity so if we want to get people out of cars then we have to think about urban areas. I often cycle to Lancaster and a very pleasant ride it is too. On the other hand a link road is being built as I write and what a bonus this will be all drivers from the Morecambe and Heysham peninsula who want to get to the M6. It won't help people get out of their cars and travel less or use public transport but I can certainly see the benefits.

However today's blog was inspired by comments on Facebook about speed cameras. The comments were mostly from people who had been fined and saw the cameras as a money maker for the government and I have some sympathy for this view. There is a danger from drivers who are not aware of the limit and break it unknowingly or deliberately. Excuses are many and will include ideas like it was safe to drive on the road at this speed, or I was running late because it was an emergency and risk was minimal. Other excuses may be that they got up late because they had been out the night before, or they wanted to catch the end of a television programme - make your own excuse up. One genuine excuse that I heard was that the driver thought it was a 40mph road because there was a similar road nearby!

We need to comply with the law (unless of course you happen to be an anarchist) and it's not just for safety reasons even though it is definitely better to be hit by a car at 20mph than it is at 30mh. The environment benefits from less pollution by driving at more fuel efficient speeds. Sensible acceleration will do the same thing. So will sensible deceleration, and for that matter not being stuck in jams will benefit the environment too.

Cars are tremendously liberating, and in its way so too is a link road but we have to look after the environment. This doesn't mean stopping in the house and leaving the car parked outside the door, but it does mean getting up at the right time if we have been out on the previous evening. It does mean that we need to plan journeys so we don't feel the need to break the law. It does mean that we can't be ignorant of the law, but mostly it means that we shouldn't deliberately be looking for the fastest acceleration or deliberately breaking the speed limit. Everyone who complained about the fine (£100) should ask themselves what the level of fine should be that would change their lifestyle.

Change the world

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