It will take more than speed bumps to stop Mr Toad

MORE GOVERNMENT money to fight speeding motorists is the latest call from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), members of which are meeting transport ministers in London today specifically to discuss speed limits.

Great idea boys, but more money for what, exactly? For installing more 30mph road signs, to remind people driving too fast to notice that they are in built-up areas, maybe. Or for putting more speed bumps into residential areas between which Ferrari drivers can test that 0-60 in 5 seconds capability so effectively.

I know all about this because at lunch recently I sat next to a man who drives a Ferrari. "It's fearfully good fun all the vroom-vrooming and then having to slam on the brakes before you get to the next bump," chortled the man, who even looked like Mr Toad.

The ACPO wants more speed cameras in cities, but everyone knows that only one in four speed cameras actually contains film. True, they act as deterrents, but Ferrari-driving toads are not easily put off. I said as much to the ACPO duty officer, who replied dryly that I'd be surprised how many people had Maseratis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis as status symbols purely to park outside their front doors. Half of them probably hadn't ever done more than 70mph on the motorway.

Living in Chelsea, I know all about status symbols. Every second car around here is an Italian job. The fashion photographer in the studios next door told me the only reason he has a Lamborghini is that its tyres are too fat to clamp.

Someone discussing traffic problems on the radio yesterday suggested the quality of urban life would improve if the speed limit in shopping and residential areas were reduced to 20mph.

Living as we do in a flat above a shop, we would benefit on both counts, though I would be surprised if any of the traffic passing under my window on the King's Road - apart from police cars, fire engines and ambulances - ever did more than 10mph. The average speed of traffic in London is apparently 7mph - we went a lot faster in horse-drawn carriages.

That's the insoluble problem with cities like London. You get maniac toads vroom-vrooming out of side streets on to the King's Road or the Embankment, putting the fear of God into pedestrians waiting patiently to cross.

To combat this trend, the council has extended the pavements and installed raised crossings made of shiny red brick at the top of every side street debouching on to the King's Road, with the intention of slowing cars down. It hasn't.

Unlike speed bumps, raised crossings have gentle slopes allowing cars to cross them at speed without damaging their infrastructure.Moreover, pavements with raised crossings don't have kerbs. Since guide dogs are trained to stop at kerbs, they are all going to have to be recalled for retraining - unless we want scores of innocent blind folk mown down at these new junctions.

Probably the only way to stop people who are bent on driving fast is to make drastic changes to car advertisements. That's what the man from the ACPO thought, too. "It's all this macho image they generate," he said. "If only they would emphasise the caring side of cars." What caring side? I didn't know they had one.

On the other hand, I do go along with his new image approach. Why can't someone invent a car that looks and feels like a Ferrari but under the bonnet has a 2CV engine? "You mean, all show and no performance?" said the ACPO officer. Rather like some of the men who drive them, if you ask me.

Call me a hedonist, but I prefer comfort to speed; and so apparently did the man we saw last weekend driving a two-seater sofa along Gloucester Road. He had a steering-wheel and an engine, I suppose, somewhere beneath its chintz loose covers. It was being tailed by two police cars, presumably to check that it wasn't breaking the speed limit.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
TVDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
Arts and Entertainment
Laugh a minute: Steph Parker with Nigel Farage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Comic Ivor Dembina has staged his ‘Traditional Jewish Xmas Eve Show’ for the past 20 years; the JNF UK charity is linked to the Jewish National Fund, set up to fund Jewish people buying land in Palestinian territories
comedy

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?