Friday, November 7, 2008

In motoring terms, England is broken.

Having left the UK 8 years ago, it never ceases to amaze me how much is broken about England when I return for visits. This time around it occurred to me how ridiculously small the parking spaces are. They're not quite big enough to get a car into. Well - they are, but only if you don't want to open the doors and get out.
Then there's the new mayor of London - Boris Johnson. Now he wants to tax motorcycles for parking in the city centre. Typical. They introduce the "congestion charge" to try to encourage people to use bikes, motorbikes and public transport instead of cars, and it works to some extent. Now so many people have swapped to motorbikes, BoJo has decided it's time to tax those too.
Then there's the traffic police - or lack of them. So many speed cameras have been installed since I left that by the police force's own admission, they've slashed the number of actual traffic police. In some cases by as much as 90%. So whereas an physical policeman pulling you over could assess the road and traffic conditions, as well as your driving, and thus make a subjective assessment of whether or not you truly deserve a ticket, now the country is presided over by automated cameras that fine you two weeks after the offence. Which is of course totally ridiculous. Take me for example - if I get a speeding fine in a rental car, two weeks after I've left the country, then it tells me two things.
1. I don't need to pay it because they can't prosecute me outside of England
2. It didn't make the road I allegedly committed the offence on any safer because I wasn't stopped at the point of my alleged offence. In fact after two weeks, I'd be lucky to even remember where the hell I was with the amount of travelling I do.

Yes. England is well and truly broken. But if you still live there, you already know that.

And don't get me started on the price of petrol.....


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Anonymous said...

Please remember UK is a very small overcrowded island and car parking spaces are a manifestation of this.
Bojo was voted in on a wave of unpopularity with the Labour Government (most of which was completely unfounded)and to do that a very competent Mayor was unseated.
Speed cameras were introduced in an attempt to control the speeding anarchy that is so prevalent on UK roads,that has nothing to do with the state of the country and everything to do with prats that insist on breaking the law by exceeding the speed limit.
No country is perfect,including the USA,I recall being issued a ticket for jay walking by an oversealous cop at 3am when the streets were deserted.How stupid is that?


Chris said...

Red Ken wasn't a competent mayor - he introduced "congestion" charging. And speed cameras have nothing to do with accidents and everything to do with making money. (See my page on the facts and fiction of speeding). Speeding is not an "anarchy". Show me someone who says they've never broken the speed limit and I'll show you a liar. Everyone has "broken the law" by speeding. It's because the motorist is such an easy target that the government (national and local) spend so much time trying to rob us of every hard-earned pound to bolster their budgets.
Here's an idea. Why doesn't BoJo try to solve one of the real problems? Bike and car theft. I would have no problem paying to park my motorbike in London if it was secured parking. But to pay £1.50 for on-street parking, where the bike will inevitably be vandalised or stolen because the council doesn't give a flying toss about property crime? No way. Or how about the crime that Red Ken introduced with congestion charging in the first place - number plate spoofing. Did he seriously think that people would just roll over and pay? Of course not - it's just too easy to get fake numberplates made up and have the charges sent to someone else. Compared to the real problems facing the country, speeding is in no way a crime, and as such, a disproportionate amount of time is spent detecting and prosecuting something that has no bearing on the state of the country. Other than pissing off people like me who get done for doing 10mph over the limit at 3am on a deserted road because some automated piece of equipment doesn't have the subjectivity to understand safe driving on an empty road. Something a police officer would have realised in an instant and probably made a judgement call not to hand out a ticket.