Everyone's gone speed-hump crazy /MOTORING

The handiest street atlas I have ever used landed on my desk for review the other day. The London Back Street Map is an easy-to-use guide to the capital's best rat-runs.

The maps are big and colourful, and clear enough to enable you to avoid main road traffic snarls while glancing at the page. Taxi drivers, or so the blurb says, were enlisted to help. I have been using the book for a few weeks now, and have shaved at least 10 minutes off my commute to work, and valuable time off other peak-hour journeys.

But while the book's publisher is doing its best to ease congestion and help motorists, most local authorities are doing the opposite. In particular, they have gone speed-hump crazy. In my particular bit of London, it is not only popular link roads whichare sprouting these mounds.

Increasingly, quiet traffic-free back streets are also being turned into motorised mogul fields.

The original intention of the speed-hump was clear enough: to reduce speeds on roads that had apparently become dangerous because of the rat-runners. Now, though, residents increasingly lobby their local authorities for speed-humps, not because of genuine safety fears (although that remains the excuse), but as a convenient way of making their own roads quieter. Of course, a quieter road is usually a safer road. But if all residents used this ruse, we would not have a road network. Where would it end? Why not put up road humps on all A- or B-roads that have housing (most do)?

When the humps go up, motorists are dissuaded from using public roads which you and I pay for. The result is that more traffic has to use the main roads which are usually just as residential as back streets. Overall, congestion gets worse. So does pollution.

Humps are a dubious way of slowing motorists. Most humps are impossible to drive over at the legal 30mph limit, let alone the 20mph speed advisable on residential streets. (What would happen if a driver destroyed his suspension hitting a hump while driving legally at 20mph or 30mph: would the local authority pay the bill?)

Speed-humps, particularly the big ones that now seem to be sprouting in my part of town, are dangerous for motorcyclists and cyclists - street-users rarely considered by road builders. Even at low speed, the humps give cyclists a nasty jolt, not unlike being kicked by a mule between the legs. Motorcyclists have to slow down to walking speed. Otherwise, they will be thrown off.

Goodness knows what long-term damage is being done to suspensions and tyres of cars. No doubt we have already seen fatal accidents caused by the accumulative mechanical damage inflicted by these so-called traffic calming measures.

Traffic calmers! They make drivers more agitated and force the traffic to speed up and then slow down (causing more pollution and mechanical noise, owing to the constant acceleration and deceleration). They encourage drivers to pay more attention to the actual road surface than to surrounding scenery, such as children playing nearby. And, daftest of all, they turn perfectly good roads into rollercoasters.

I cannot think of a single other public facility designed to make the user's task as onerous as possible - apart from a humped road. Besides, as the Government is poised to cut back on road building, surely it makes sense to optimise our existing road network?

An acquaintance of mine, an ambulance driver, is also waiting for the first death caused because he could not reach a house on a humped-road on time. It must have happened already, somewhere in the UK. Ditto the fire brigade and the police. At least the fire engines and ambulances can reach homes on humped roads, which is more than can be said for homes located on streets blighted by the previous generation traffic calmer: the width restrictor.

There are, of course, some quiet residential roads that are threatened at peak hour by rat-runners - just as there are main roads made more dangerous by speeding motorists. Rather than using speed-humps, the police should set up their radar traps and earn some revenue (a language the current police chiefs certainly understand). They will soon persuade the regular speeders either to slow down or go elsewhere. Alternatively - or as well - fit a Gatso camera box and a big warning sign. The Gatso box itselfis far cheaper than building a series of humps.

Speed-humps deter and hinder all motorists - whether they are law-abiding or not - from using roads that they have a perfect right to use. Finally, all residential roads should have a 20mph speed limit, which I have been urging for years.

I recommend the London Back Street Map. It even warns of those rat-runs that are humped. Please do not avoid these routes, though. The best way of removing the mounds is to give lobbying residents a share of their own medicine. Namely, to give them the hump.

The London Back Street Map, published by The Clever Map Company, £4.99.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Web Developer

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Web Developer looking...

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Day In a Page

    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?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015