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Illogical humps and voracious wardens

PUBLISHED: 16:56 05 September 2007 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 September 2010

For some years I ve been keeping a survey, gleaned from nuggets of information that are already in the public domain. Every week a local personality is asked a series of questions for our informative Who s Who column, an interesting little feature for wh

For some years I've been keeping a survey, gleaned from nuggets of information that are already in the public domain.

Every week a local personality is asked a series of questions for our informative Who's Who column, an interesting little feature for which I take no credit, since it was the idea of a predecessor.

One of the recurring questions goes along the lines of 'What is the worst thing about living in ...?'

Considering the range of answers that could be offered, it's pretty astounding that more than 70 per cent have the same consistent complaints.

According to these worthy citizens, broadly representative of our readers and this area's inhabitants, the very worst thing is parking enforcement. This pet hate is closely followed (though less so these days) by the proliferation of speed humps. Crime and even anti social behaviour fail to register when ranged against the obvious annoyance caused by illogical humps and voracious traffic wardens.

Recently the Ham&High was criticised by an eminent and normally sensible columnist in his eminent and normally sensible newspaper for our keen interest in these not unrelated subjects.

This was despite the fact that just before the column had appeared, a nationwide inquiry had been called into parking enforcement methods, so dismayed was the government by the way in which local authorities were abusing motorists.

A reappraisal of the merits of speed humps on every spare stretch of road was also underway. Now Camden's new council, like neighbouring Barnet, has been tearing them up. Have the casualty departments been swamped with a new wave of accident victims, as the Jeremiahs predicted they would?

People who look at road safety issues often ignore two basic factors. One is that pedestrians in de-humped areas aren't suddenly being mown down like skittles, for the very simple reason that motorists have a vested interest in avoiding them. The other is that on most roads, it is impossible to reach speeds at which accidents become more likely.

On my dashboard is one of those useful little gadgets that calculates the average speed for any journey - it's usually about 10mph in and around Hampstead and Highgate.

A seasoned magistrate in a court case I covered many years ago took issue with a solicitor's claim that his client deserved leniency because he had been driving at only 10mph when colliding with a bus. The sage old legal eagle begged to differ: ''If he can run into something as big as a bus at 10mph, then he really shouldn't be on the road at all,'' he mused. There's something in that, as the defendant soon discovered to his cost.

Geoff Martin, editor, Ham&High Series.

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