I could think of better places to be this morning than in the park with the dog. There was a stiff, cold wind blowing and occasional showers of rain swept across the grass almost horizontally, stinging where the drops hit my face. But as my late father was fond of saying, you shouldn't have joined if you can't take a joke. Some joke! All the same, there were compensations. I have had fresh air and exercise (with more to come this afternoon) and I cannot recall ever having seen the flowers of the yew tree before. Tiny little globes of greenish yellow, less than an eighth of an inch in diameter. However, that's not what I was going to blog about this morning. Nor was I going to join the hordes of bloggers bemoaning the fact that Google are pulling their reader this summer. Not that I won't miss it, ‘cos I will, but I'm not going to moan about it all the same.
Am I, I wonder, alone in seeing a certain irony in this picture? I took it last week while in the centre of Brighton and walking to the hospital. Those two traffic signs, when unmasked, will indicate a speed restriction of 20mph. It would seem that the city council, of whatever hue as this "problem" goes back a few years, is determined to prevent motorists entering the city. In order to achieve that aim they are introducing more and more restrictions. We first noticed that the cost of parking in Brighton was extremely high compared with other towns. Indeed, the Old Bat reckoned it was cheaper for her to drive nearly 25 miles to Crawley to do her shopping than to drive just a couple or three miles into Brighton. We also noticed that it was cheaper to park in Cannes or Monte Carlo than in Brighton! Perhaps the peak was reached last summer when the cost of parking for the day on the sea front was increased to £20. And that had to be fed into a meter in coins of no greater value than £1!
Parking controls - prepaid meters and residents parking permits (for which one must pay in order to be permitted to park outside one's house) - have gradually been extended further and further through the city, possibly as a means of increasing the council's income.
Then came the installation of cycle lanes. I have no deep-rooted objection to cycle lanes. Indeed, I think there existence can be a boon to both cyclists and motorists. We have had some in Brighton for years, usually along the inside of the carriageway and abut 3 or 4 feet wide, ie wide enough for a cyclist to avoid being hit by a passing motor vehicle. But has that been enough for our council? Oh, no. They have spent many thousands of pounds ripping up some of the main cross-city routes to install wider cycle lanes with kerbs separating them from the traffic. This has resulted in narrower carriageways and horrendous traffic jams with all the increased frustration and pollution that they bring with them.
Speed limits of 20mph have been introduced on many roads in the city, usually stretches that run past the entrances to school. (There is one, however, that runs past one school entrance and continues in force for another half a mile, only to be lifted as the road reaches another school!) Now, however, the council plans to restrict speeds across most of the centre of the city to 20mph and has spent thousands of pounds erecting signs like these and painting the speed limit on the roads. Of course, without spending millions more on speed cameras, that limit will be completely unenforceable. And what will it achieve? Frankly, I doubt very much if it will make the roads safer, which is what the council is claiming. There are very few accidents on these roads anyway, and most of those are unrelated to speed. I think it's just another stick with which to beat the motorist.
And the irony in that picture? It was back in the 19th century that the 4mph speed limit was removed and motorists celebrated the derestriction with a drive from London to Brighton.
Like I said earlier, you shouldn't have joined if you can't take a joke.