“Plans are afoot to make the default speed on A roads 50mph instead of 60, while more 20mph zones will be introduced in residential areas and in the vicinity of hospitals and schools. All this with the avowed aim of reducing road fatalities by a third, from 3,000 per annum to 2,000. In fact, road deaths have already declined by a third in the past decade – which can only be a good thing. But while no one disputes that a pedestrian hit by a car travelling at 20mph has a far greater chance of surviving than one struck by a car going 10mph faster, I have my doubts that greater speed limitations will actually help in urban areas.
“The problem is that drivers no longer inhabit a real world but instead a virtual one in which it’s the signs that tell them what to do. In London, drivers are constantly champing at the restrictive bit: revving at the lights, menacing pedestrians at pelican and zebra crossings, accelerating between speed bumps, and generally doing everything they can to squeeze the last iota of forward motion out of their overpowered machines. That’s the reason why they hate cyclists who break the rules quite so much – they lust for the same liberty.”
Read the rest of Will Self’s Evening Standard column here.