Not a Red Flag

I watched an old program about the preparation of an Antique Darracq Car to compete in the London to Brighton Rally. At the beginning of the rally a reg flag was torn in two to represent the start of modern motoring through the appeal of the Red Flag Act. The Locomotive Act of 1865 introduced a regulation that a self propelled vehicle must follow a person who would display a red flag effectively restricting that vehicle speed to walking pace, four or five mph. The Act was repealed in 1896 which allowed cars to drive at their maximum speed. This remained in place until 1935 when the 30 mph limit was introduced and subsequent limits thereafter. So the imposition of the 30 mph must have been pretty arbitrary because I doubt if they had the science or the statistics to make a rational decision on what is an effective limit for reducing injuries and deaths to a minimum.

As we have said previously the Welsh Government, Senedd Cymru, have adopted a 20 mph limit in all residential roads and pedestrian streets. The Red Driver Risk Management organisation has stated that it believes that the rest of the UK should adopt the Welsh Government’s enlightened attitude to the 20 mph and adopt it in a similar fashion.

In Whitney in Oxford, the leader of the Oxford County Council is ignoring local opinion and is introducing 20 mph limits or so it was reported. Good thing? Well it seems that only 98 people of the 288 online responses to a survey agreed. This has been picked up by a local MP who stated “Yet again the Liberal-Labour-Green coalition running County Hall are dismissing local opinion to plough ahead with their ideologically-driven agenda. The County Council have presented no evidence showing why a 20mph limit in Witney is necessary, how it will be adequately enforced, and what impact it will have on our town.” Well the 288 locals who responded to the survey represent only about 1% of the 28,000 souls who live there. ‘Dismissing local opinion!’ I hardly think so, and when one considers the benefits in the reduction injuries and deaths a 20 mph limit will bring (which had been widely published) then I don’t think that the Oxford County Council have need to justify what has already been justified. The limit will be introduced later this year.

This opposition is a bit like the anti-Red Flag brigade. There are certain people who will always, unjustifiably, criticise a good idea when they did not come up with it. Thames Valley Police objected to certain aspects of the regulation, but the paper declined to publish, or did not know, what their objections were. Bad reporting!! The police will, however, enforce the speed limit which kicks into touch the widely held belief that the police will not, or cannot, enforce 20 mph speed limit.