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JVH the Monkey, Parking on Sidewalks, Comments on Russia

June 8, 2019

Peter Guest

John Van Horn tagged a comment on an earlier column about my reference to the EU’s new 30-point regulations to make future vehicles less likely to kill the onboard monkeys. 


A note from JVH: Peter, Peter, Peter – I can think of many cases when the need for edging past the speed limit may perhaps outweigh the law that is in place. To wit: I am in a 55 MPH zone and there is a truck in front of me going 50. I want to pass. I could quickly get safely around the truck at 60, but my car will only go 55. So, I’m stuck. And of course, there’s my ‘get to the hospital’ example or ‘outrun the bad guys’ example.


I don’t for a moment believe that the Germans will escape the EU rules, if you do you are being naive. As for using a cell phone being similar to being drunk. I agree people shouldn’t use a hand held cell and drive, but I can see no similarity to being drunk. 


This is not a personal liberty issue, but it is instead an issue of “unintended consequences.” My favorite law.


Yes, John, when you drove here many drivers were speeding, that’s the point. Traffic Police will tell you that the most significant cause of crashes is speed. They don’t have the resources to enforce in other than a token way, so technology will. It’s not one size fits all, so although we won’t be able to drive above the appropriate posted limits here, my German colleagues will still be able to max out their BMWs and Porches on
their autobahns.


How will the proletariat respond? They will moan. They moaned when drink driving laws were introduced, but death rates dropped and whereas being caught “over the limit” was considered bad luck at first, now if you casually mention that you have a drink-driving conviction, it’s like you made a bad smell in a lift.


Same thing with cell phones. The impairment from using a phone is similar to drink driving, so you can’t phone and drive. The fine started at $50, which was more than a hands-free kit, but it’s proving harder to stop, and the penalty is now $275, plus six penalty points. If you get 12 points you lose your license so two strikes and you’re out. 


Despite this, the police reporting pages are full of downloaded dashcam images of people driving and talking, most of whom get the penalty. This is happening because most drivers see the risk, to them, from someone else’s dangerous behavior. The most worrying thing to me is that truck drivers seem to be the most persistent offenders. On a recent trip, I saw no fewer than six drivers of 44-ton rigs talking on phones.


Now before you reach for the feathers and start heating up the tar, I am not trying to infringe personal liberty. Well yes, I am, right at the point where people exercising their freedom to ignore the rules puts me or someone else at risk.


 


Parking on Sidewalks


We have a problem. Too many people park their vehicles on the footway - damaging the surface or blocking movement. At its worst, people are forced to walk in traffic. Back in 1966 when there were half as many cars, the Greater London Council saw the problem coming and enacted a law which banned footway parking, unless specifically authorized and marked. 


The rest of the UK has woken up to the problem and, for at least a decade, municipalities and government have been pushing the problem back and forth. “Something must be done” they cry; but drivers are voters who seem to have a greater voice than pedestrians, so there has been a lot of handwringing and no action. Now, suddenly, the government has woken up and launched a public consultation. This is probably a precursor to a lot of smoke, little light before the civil servants kick the can down the road for a few more years. 


If only they could read! 184 years ago, Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835, made it a crime to wilfully ride upon any footpath … set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers;…and every person so offending…shall for each and every such offence forfeit and pay any sum not exceeding £500 over and above the damages occasioned thereby. So, it’s already a crime with a fine up to £500 plus damages. Why isn’t this power used? Every case has to go in front of a judge. All that has to be done is to add footway parking to the parking fine/ticketing system. Job done.


Apparently, in Russia, there are motorists who get stuck in traffic and simply drive along the footway to bypass the delay. A group of young and brave activists decided enough is enough and have taken to blocking footways and forcing drivers to ba  ck up to the point where they drove onto the footway. 


Drivers who argue get a sticker on their windscreen that takes a good hour to remove. It often ends in pushing and shoving, occasionally pedestrians being run into, at which point a largely sympathetic traffic police issue the driver a fine, but here’s the problem: hit a pedestrian on the footway and the fine is about $50. Run a red light twice and lose your license. Watch it, it’s addictive.



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