Over the past couple of years, I have realised that many car, van, lorry and even bus drivers need to learn the basics of numbers. It seems to me that the most challenging number to grasp is the number 20. We are seeing increasing use of the number 20 on our roads in the form of a maximum speed sign. All the roads within the boundary of our village have a maximum speed of 20mph. However, many drivers seem to be of the opinion that this limit doesn’t apply to them.
A couple of the roads have another sign. This has been given the nickname, SID. Apparently, this is an acronym for its real name of “Speed Indicator Device”. In our village, if you are travelling at the speed limit of below, then the sign alternates between a Green Smiley face and your actual speed. Go 1mph over the limit and the face turns to a Red Angry face.
This red face is supposedly designed to make you instantly change your speed down to the limit or below.
It doesn’t work.
The reason it doesn’t work is simple. Enforcement! Without anybody enforcing the limit, the limit is pointless.
In another motoring gripe, I must ask this question. Why does the driver behind me think that ‘tail-gating me will make the line of cars in front of me go faster? It seems to happen whatever road I’m on. I was, at one point beginning to think it was just me, but other people have said the same.
And it’s not just small vehicles. Thursday was a good example. The speed limit on the particular stretch was 40mph, and I was travelling at, and I must be honest at around 42mph. But behind me was one of those tipper wagons that was returning to a local quarry. It was so close, that I could not see the driver’s cab and could only make out the make from the front grill. If I had to make an emergency brake, the impetus from the wagon would have carried me quite a long way. Is there any need?
We have had a 20mph speed limit in the village for about a year now. Maybe a bit longer, but I would say that well over 80% of drivers take no notice at all. The problem is, and this is my opinion, there is no enforcement. None whatsoever. We have the main 20 mph zone signs as you enter the village together with smaller repeater signs, but that’s it basically. There is one of those ‘smiley’ face signs near the school, but that is mainly ignored by the majority.
A great deal of the time, these “speed merchants”, (and again, my opinion) are local people. People who know that they are not going to get caught. I was at the local bottle bank last week, when a van went past. The sign showed that he was travelling at 35mph. The lady who was walking past stated that “… they should not be allowed to enter ...”. I had to explain that the van and driver was from the village and in fact from the same road that I live on.
It was announced in the Parish Magazine, that the Parish Council was putting a bid to purchase a Mobile SID (Speed Indication Device) to raise speed awareness in areas of concern. I don’t think it will have any effect. If drivers already ignore the sign near the school, are they going to take any notice of any signs. Back to my opinion again, but the only thing that will stop this is proper enforcement. Signs at the entrance roads saying that mobile Speed Cameras are in use, together with a Police Office with a Speed Gun would be the better idea. Nothing gets a message home better than a fine.
However, the latest idea is to have a sticker on your refuse bin that tells drivers to slow down. A sticker! On a bin that is only put out one day a week. Really? Is that the best they can come up with?
Things did start to get better as the next few years progressed. Staff realised that I was not the ‘bossy’ type that the previous occupier of the post.
In 1991 the Government decided to ‘de-criminalise’ parking offences. The Road Traffic Act 1991 (RTA), allowing local authorities to issue parking tickets for contraventions such as: parking on yellow lines, footway parking, not displaying valid pay and display tickets or parking permits within a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ). Leeds were now starting to look at the pros and cons of this new legislation. But before that could happen, Leeds needed a new processing system. I was asked, because of my ‘technical knowledge’ to be part of the team that looked at the different systems that were available. Unusually for me, I asked what it was worth? The manager had been expecting this and offered me an upgrade in scale to S5. I remember sitting there pretending to think about and then, even more unusual for me, I countered with ‘”Could you make it S6?” I think he had been expecting this and he agreed, there and then.
There were many trips out to various Local Authorities to see their systems and to talk to users before we settled on ours. One of the the things that kept cropping up, was residential parking, or parking outside your own property. As more and more people had cars, and the cost of parking those cars increased, many drivers took to parking in residential streets, much to the annoyance of the local residents. To try and overcome this problem Local Authorities set up Residents Parking Zones which allowed the residents within that ‘zone’ to obtain a parking permit(s) for themselves and visitors. Leeds were using card permits that were hand written with any required details and they did not look very professional.
The new legislation would give the Council control over the parking in these Residents zones, and it was decided that any new system would have to be able to cope with the issue of more accurate and professional permits. This also meant that jobs and job titles would have to change. Parking Attendants became Civil Enforcement Officers, clerks became Customer Service Officers and a new team called Appeals Officers was created. The new system used mail-merge for the first time to create individual and personalised letters. This meant that we could now send parking permits that were no longer hand written and could not be easily forged. It became one of my jobs to both design and implement these new style permits when we were ready to take on the new service. That new service started in 2005 and things started to get better for everyone.
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