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

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen