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.

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: Front Of House Team Member

    £16500 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Manager

    £22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

    Recruitment Genius: Store Manager & Store Supervisor

    £19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Case Liaison Officer / Administrator

    £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist based in Rochest...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific