So this country spent £75m on the ‘implementation and maintenance’ of traffic calming measures in 2014? Churchill Insurance is claiming this figure was up by £26m on the total spent in 2013.
Funnily enough, I recently spent an afternoon in a garage in the East Midlands, the sort of place where you’re reminded of the realities of motoring for the majority of drivers.
While I was there an AA Patrol van towed in a 10 year-old Ford Fiesta. It had suffered a broken front spring. A quick call to the local motor factors and the repair was underway. The garage owner told me broken springs were increasingly common. ‘I don’t know why, perhaps they are making them out of crappy steel or something.’
It’s far more likely to be a result of speed humps and poorly maintained roads. And speed bumps have to be the biggest problem of the lot.
I often drive along a local road that has a good half a mile of them. The humps that are oversized, crumbling dangerously at the edges and laid out so as to force cars to cross the central white line.
Even when trying to trickle along at 20mph, I wince every time my car thumps over these tank traps as a jolt is sent through the car’s suspension components and the body creaks a little in protest.
It’s been long understood that conventional speed humps also cause serious pollution hotspots as drivers speed up and slow down, braking and accelerating. The situation is made worse when it’s an older diesel car traversing the humps.
Indeed, if you wanted to come up with a way to increase local air and noise pollution, increase fuel consumption and also cause damage to vehicles, speed bumps would be the way to do it.
It is true though that ‘traffic calming’ schemes are becoming more sophisticated. In London certainly, the idea of ‘naked streets’ and ‘shared space’ is taking hold.
Pioneered in Holland, the idea is to remove street barriers, high kerbs and road lines, all of which appear to point to infinity and are thought to encourage the driver to look 200ft down the road, rather than at the immediate traffic conditions.
Removing traffic lights altogether is also being tried - notably outside one tube station in West London, where neither the driver or pedestrian has right of way.