Apparently raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph will get us to meetings quicker, improve the output of the country and save the economy, at least that’s what Transport Secretary Philip Hammond seems to be claiming. Is that your experience of motorway driving because it’s not mine.
What are the key features of my typical motorway journey? Well firstly most drivers are already doing 80mph, and more, regardless of our current speed limit and there seems to be little enthusiasm for slowing them down.
Secondly, there’s the "middle lane moron" – you know the ones, they’re doing 71mph in the middle lane whilst the inside lane is totally clear. Traffic is having to weave around them slowing everyone down. Again, never seen anyone pulled over for this though clearly it could come under "driving without due care or attention".
Finally, road works. These used to be the scourge of a drive along the motorway but I actually find then rather relaxing now. The imposition of an 50mph average speed limit, policed by "in/out" cameras, means that traffic all slows and filters through remarkably quickly.
All of which makes me think the unthinkable, should all of our motorway network be policed in this way? At every junction or at periodic bridges should cameras track us and measure our average speed? Would we all then just cruise calmly along like happens at the road words? There’s a slot of studies which say that smooth, rather than "fast" driving is what a road needs, which is one reason why variable speed limits force everyone to slow down when traffic is heavy as things then happen more smoothly (getting real technical here 😉 ).
I had to travel across London on Saturday so rather than brave the hot and sticky tube, I took my bike on the train and then cycled across London.
It was a lovely day and Sat-Nav on my phone meant I got straight to my destination – but the roads were frankly shocking. Well actually not the tarmac but the ironworks; the gulleys (the slotted holes where the rain goes), drain covers and manhole covers at the sides and in the middle of the roads.
There I am cruising along, keeping an eye on the traffic and watching for out for suicidal pedestrians about to step in front of me when suddenly bam! My front wheel drops like a stone and then rears up like Roy Roger’s Trigger.
It’s a simple problem – if you add a new layer of tarmac and don’t raise the ironworks, you get left with these small craters – and they’re bloody dangerous. I’m fit, have good balance and spot most of them so can prepare myself but I could well see children, the elderly, or just someone distracted, going over the handlebars into the traffic. No wonder many people won’t cycle around London when even the road surface itself is against you.
So before painting any more "blue highways", Mayor Johnson might like to fix up the many bus lanes and other roads so that they are safe for cyclists.
Many thanks to all who helped me and our local team in the Bush Hill Park by election. Although the result itself was slightly disappointing, we have built up some very helpful intelligence and contacts in the ward which we now need to turn into supporters, members, and an eventual victory.
Now stop reading this and get down to St. Peters in Islington or one of the many other by elections still to come in London!
Bush Hill Park Result
1108 Lee Chamberlain (The Conservative Party Candidate)
668 Ivor Wiggett (The Labour Party Candidate)
230 Tony Kingsnorth (Independent)
177 Paul David Smith (Liberal Democrats)
100 Douglas Frank Coker (Green Party)
70 Gwyneth Wesley Rolph (UK Independence Party)
61 Stephen Squire (British National Party)
45 Clive Morrison (Christian Party "Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship"
29 Ben Weald (The English Democrats – "Putting England First!")
Bush Hill Park goes to the polls for the third time in three years on Thursday 28th July.
After a whirlwind campaign it all comes down to what the residents of Bush Hill Park want. Paul D Smith, aided by his Lib Dem team, is ready to represent the of views of the people of Bush Hill Park and ensure that their voice is heard above the yah-boo-sucks party politics in the council chamber.
"We will listen to people’s views before wasting time on expensive external consultations, said Paul. "And we will represent the entire ward from Lincoln Road to The Fairway, from Ridge Avenue to the Great Cambridge Road."
"Residents have happy to share their views, whether through our surveys, on the doorstep or by telephoning or e-mailing me and I will continue that dialogue after I’m elected. Residents should not be surprised to find a councillor on their doorstep, it should be a regular occurrence."
I’ve just looked back at the turnout in the 2009 Bush Hill Park by election and was horrified to find it was just 20%. That means that 4 in every 5 voters simply didn’t vote. This is even more shocking when your realise that 20% is not far off the number of postal voter in many wards these days. Presumably this means far less that 20% of the voters who could have gone to the polling stations, actually did. The question is, will voters settle for whatever they get this time, or will they vote and choose the councillor they want?
My team and I have been knocking on doors, making sure voters know what they will get if they elect me as their next councillor. The photo above doesn’t convey the torrential rain which still didn’t stop us going out and about and talking to residents. I hope the voters of Bush Hill Park show they also care who represents Bush Hill Park, and go to the polls on July 28th.
As we enter the last week of the by election in Bush Hill Park, where are we at? Well wet for one thing as the weather turned distinctly unpleasant! But the residents are warm and friendly which more than makes up.
We’re starting to get responses back to our Focus leaflet which highlights the sledgehammer approach of the council to speeding in parts of Bush Hill Park. The proposal was to carpet bomb the area around St Marks Road and Trinity Avenue with speed humps, including all the adjacent roads.
Thus far responses agree with our assertion that there are a small number of key junctions which need work, such as the Trinity/Ladbroke/Melbourne junction, that the junction of First/St.Marks/Trinity by the station needs to be made much safer for crossing pedestrians as well as slowing traffic, but that if this work is done, the problems will be solved.
A few residents have also suggested a zebra crossing somewhere on Trinity Avenue, towards the A10 end, as traffic entering and leaving the A10 makes crossing the road difficult. Perhaps the money saved on not putting in the many speed bumps judged unnecessary by residents could be diverted to this.
The use of 20mph zones is slightly more contentious. Generally the view is Yes but there are a significant number of Nos. I was interested to read the comments in the local press about St.John’s school’s request for a 20mph zone. It seems the council believes that a 20mph zone must have additional protection such as speed bumps. Whilst I understand why speed bumps help, I don’t see any reason why periodic speed gun patrols cannot be used to ensure that motorists adhere to 20mph limits in areas where speed bumps are not possible. It seems wrong to use ambulances to justify doing nothing to provide additional protection for school children.
But the sun is shining so I must get out and catch up on lost work. I have a number of papier mache creations thanks to the mix of leaflets and rain earlier this week. Fingers crossed that this week is drier.
As you sow, so shall you type it appears! I’m taking a short rest from pounding the streets to catch up on paperwork. We’ve had a great response to our Residents’ Survey and follow-up canvassing but it’s pointless unless we do something with the data.
So, are the problems in Rayleigh road the same as those in Wellington Road? Are the voters going to paint Bush Hill Park yellow, or red, or green …? The answers seem to be “some of them are” and “the voters are keeping their powder dry”.
It could be telling that in a ward traditionally thought of as Tory, there are very few declared Tory voters and an overwhelming number of “still deciding” voters. They might just be shy, or this could be a reflection of the disillusionment expressed by some that Bush Hill Park has been viewed as “Tory by right, no need to make an effort here”.
And Labour and the rest? Conspicuous by their absence. The odd leaflet has been spotted here and there but my Lib Dem team seems to be the only group actively ringing doorbells and listening to voters.
But I should get back to entering the data and calling back those respondents who have real problems and are hoping I can help. No promises but this is why we rang their doorbells, because we want to help wherever we can.