14 FEBRUARY 2022


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Article from BTNews 14 FEBRUARY 2022

COMMENT: Next the red flag *

Have you every driven a 1960’s car.  For the most part they don’t go, have limited handling, and can’t stop.

When they were new there was no speed limit (that came in just before Christmas 1965).

The cars of those days had drum brakes all round, when automatic a three-speed box controlled from the steering column, cart springs for suspension and for the most a top speed of 75mph.

They were deemed safe with seat belts not fitted, and crash protection never thought of.

The centre of London (the Congestion Charge area) is now a 20mph zone.  BTN does not have a real gripe with that, although an intimate knowledge of this labyrinth of highways might reveal some roads that should have been left “as was”.

The problem now is the creeping outlawing of more and more roads where the new law just increases congestion, slows down traffic movement, and makes life even more difficult for the harassed motorist.  Some would argue it is no more than a clandestine revenue collection scheme.

Sad to say a TfL press release highlighted in this issue of BTN has clearly been written by a committee whose members do not speak to each other.  The headline reads 20mph whilst the commitment is for 13.77 km of roads.  This is because of lobbying by UK Metric Association pre-Brexit. The pint reigns supreme whether be milk or beer.  And any foreign player, in any League, will be castigated if he “misses by a mile”.  

These new draconian driving limits do not take into account that 2020 cars are far superior to their counterparts of bygone ages in terms of safety (and in every other respect).  True they are faster, but can stop quicker, have all sorts of safety devices built in and are a far superior product.

Speed limits of 20mph do have their place in this modern era but we have to be very careful when bringing them in.  

The Locomotive Act 1865 became known as the Red Flag Act, thanks to its extraordinary stipulation that any self-propelled road vehicle had to be preceded by a person walking at least 60 yards ahead, carrying a red flag. Four miles an hour was the effective limit.  What will be next?

Also see London Slows in this week’s BTN.

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Andrew Sharp, United Kingdom

Cars may be able to stop quicker these days, but they still rely on the reactions of the Mark 1 human being. When a car hits a pedestrian, there is a direct relationship between speed and probability of death. Please drive carefully!

Sandra Phipps, United Kingdom

I live in Ealing West London and cannot speak or others but the local council here has brought in a 20 mph zone on a main road. This can be justified when the schools open and close, but 24/7. Speed camera’s too?

David Tarsh, West London

Twenty mile an hour zones add to congestion and criminalise perfectly safe driving. Speed cameras are being used to extort money from motorists for understandably wanting to ignore unjustifiably low speed limits. Many counterproductive traffic measures have been introduced recently without proper consultation, which is deeply wrong.