Nanny is killing us — 10 Comments

  1. Absolutely spot on! There’s a name for this concept too, risk compensation. The safest car on the road would be one with a sharp spike pointing out from the steering wheel towards the chest of the driver, not one that kept the driver safe from consequences.

    I’ve been to Sarlat, lovely French town and a natural example of the shared access schemes that have been incredibly successful wherever they have been tried, the only thing stopping their more widespread adoption is the dull-headed control mindset of the population, who think 100% safety is actually achievable and that over-regulation is the only option.

    I’ve written about it before here …
    … and here …
    … and I still think this Raedwald article is a classic on the subject of pelican crossings vs zebras.

    • I remember being impressed by both your videos.  I hadn’t seen Raedwald’s one though [and had great difficulty finding it until I realised you had used “.htm” instead of “.html” 😀  Fixed, BTW].

      Sarlat is not the only example in France as I have come across quite a few shared spaces in the centre of towns.  It works extremely well, and I would love to know the accident rate in such places.  I would imagine it is extremely low.  Just for the laugh, I must suggest to the Village here that we should try the same experiment – make the entire village a shared space!  A first for Ireland?

  2. I seem to remember reading in the ’80s or 90s that Volvos (the pinnacle of car safety back then) were involved in proportionately more accidents than any other brand; the conclusion being that the added sense of security of the Volvo led to greater risk-taking.

    And on the subject of traffic lights, A Dutch town removed all traffic lights and gave major intersections equal priority. Not only did the accident rate fall, but the traffic flowed much more quickly and smoothly. (I’ve got the link to that one somewhere among my many bookmarks. If I find it, I’ll post it).

    I remember when Hyde Park Corner was an unregulated free-for-all. It worked perfectly. When they put lights on it, it became a permanent traffic jam.

  3. Hi Grandad. I presume you are writing about Sarlat le Caneda in the s/e of the Dordonge? If so I know it well and yes in the tourist season it’s busy but all parties behave. It’s a great place to dine out as well! As you know there’s a laid back atmosphere to the place, except at ‘ rush ‘ hour when getting out of town the roads are packed but even then all moves smoothly. There is a town in Holland which has taken out all it’s traffic lights and the accident rate has plummeted. However as you say, the safety ‘ experts ‘ only want to understand restrictions and not solutions.

    • I do indeed.  I was just being lazy with my typing.  It is an incredibly beautiful place, though possibly topped by Domme, nearby?  We always went in September so while it was still pretty full, I imagine it would have been quieter than in August.  Another strange thing that struck me about Sarlat [Le Caneda] is that despite it being a massive tourist trap, I never had any problems finding parking within just a few minutes walk to the town centre.

  4. My pad in Edinburgh is bang in the middle of the 20 mph limit. Some people stick to the new limit resolutely – and that’s fine by me as a pedestrian. Trouble is very few are that careful – including buses.

    So when walking I’m never sure which lot I’ll get every time the traffic lights change – and it can be quite scary when half way across a road to find some person barrelling down on me at 30 mph.

    That’s during the day. Just forget any compliance once it’s dark and – as before the 20 mph came in – after the pubs shut, it’s anything they want it to be – some clearly doing speeds of 40 mph plus.

    On the other hand when I’m out on my scooter (Honda SH 300), I find sticking to the 20 mph isn’t at all difficult, however my issue is with the person driving behind me. In far too many cases they sit just a couple of feet behind me, sometimes revving their motor, mostly not. And they will quite happily beetle past if I dare to give them room to overtake. Worst offenders are the self-employed mail order delivery people (2nd hand Transit Connect and Peugeot Partner type vans).

    I’d point out that when driving on wet cobbles I never give a toss what others think. Those things are lethal, so eff off and die, I stick to 20 max.

    A good friend drives a Toyota IQ that’s invariably cut up by others simply because of its size. He found it got very much worse if he sticks to the law, so he compromises and stays at around 25 mph.

    That’s as near as dash it 40 kph and that’s a perfectly acceptable compromise.

    Trouble is the safety wallahs much prefer catchy phrases like “20’s plenty”.

    I drive past a local primary school every day and believe me, at drop-off or pick-up time at school it’s be a flamin’ miracle to be able to get up to anything approaching 20 mph!  What with dippy mums stopping their cars opposite the school gates on the zig-zag road markings (can’t expect little Tarquin or Jessica to walk more than a few yards, can we – it’s dangerous out there, doncha know?), cars abandoned at a 45-degree angle about three feet away from the kerb on both sides of a narrow road, parents driving along looking left and right to try and spot diddums whilst paying not the slightest attention to the road ahead, the ones who drive along rather alarmingly looking backwards to have a conversation with their just-collected offspring (“Oooh, what did you do today, darling?” …. crunch!), pelican crossings which are pressed to red almost constantly, lollipop ladies who leap out at a moment’s notice waving their fluorescent Stop sign around like it’s a wand which can magically overcome the laws of physics, and parents who stop dead for absolutely no reason at all right in the middle of the road, it’s lethal to even try and get above 10 mph!  So, 20mph?  Eeeh – bloody luxury!

    • Simple solution – make Tarquin and Jessica fucking walk to school, or at least cycle.  Kids get exercise and traffic is kept to a minimum – a win all round.  But then of course the little darlings would be snared by the millions of paedophiles that lurk everywhere?

  6. I suspect one reason why Volvos were frequently involved in accidents was because they had poor drivers. My uncle bought my aunt an old Volvo Estate when she passed her driving test on her third attempt in anticipation of accidents when she started driving solo, because he regarded the Volvo safety cage as cheap life insurance. Happily my aunt – who turned eighty recently – still drives to the local shops and still has an unblemished license.

  7. Sarlat I have never been to – but several times to Provence. Traffic lights are few. Everything is a circle. Seems to work as French drivers are terrifying speedy drivers! They use their hooters – maybe that helps? It’s considered rude here in the UK….In my time of driving I think I had several cars where the hooter had never ever been used – virgin pure by the time I sold it for another car.

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