There\’s a reason for this

M25: not a single motorist caught by speed cameras in a year

The average speed never rises above 12 mph*. With a 70 mph limit, there just aren\’t going to be many tickets, are there?

What do we want? Road pricing! When do we want it? Now!

*Hyperbole alert.

14 thoughts on “There\’s a reason for this”

  1. No, let’s not have more road pricing. There are two ways to ease congestion: (1) price some people off the roads, or (2) build more roads. (I suppose there is a third option, improving public transport, but have you seen the cost of a train ticket lately?!)

    As a simple example, the quickest route from Oxford to Luton is via the M25, even though it’s not the most direct route. Another example: for any given journey across south London, it’s often quicker to go out to the M25, around, and back in to London, rather than trundle through the network of rat runs that are collectively referred to as the South Circular.

    Needless to say the NIMBY army of local homeowners don’t want new or upgraded roads; but their local decisions affect drivers far and wide. Time for some planning reform.

  2. I don’t think they actually operate any fixed speed cameras on British motorways at all any more. I’ve driven the length and breadth of the country at least once in each of the last two years (at either 12 mph or 90 mph) and have not received a single ticket.

    Doing it in a German-registered car might have something to do with that though.

  3. Road pricing sucks as do all little localist solutions imposed on global networks. Fuel duty is an excellent method of raising revenue to run the roads and also functions as a great congestion charge (you pay to be stuck in traffic with the engine running), encourages use of more efficient vehicles, and is damned hard to avoid paying.

  4. Yeah. I’d go with JamesV on that. The point of the exercise shouldn’t be to deter vehicles from using the roads, roads are actually supposed to be providing a benefit, but to encourage efficient use. You really want the road to be operating near its carrying capacity for as much of the time as possible whilst not overloading. You could get that with road pricing via a smart electronic system but simply taxing the fuel’s cheaper. As James says congestion >raises fuel consumption > raises cost.
    The objection is the high cost of fuel in far flung rural areas where there’s no alternative means of transport, little congestion but distances covered are large. So why not differential taxation? Tax fuel lower in isolated areas. The argument against’s that drivers will travel to buy cheaper fuel. But will they? The actual congestion problem you’re trying to solve is the sub 40 mile commute in the vicinity of cities. Driving 80 mile out to tank with cheap tax fuel would cost more fuel than tax saved. Do you actually want to be deterring long distance travel?

  5. “As James says congestion >raises fuel consumption > raises cost.”

    Shifting slightly off topic, I would suggest that the cost of one’s time / increased stress etc (rather than the cost of the fuel) may be a greater factor in the congestion decision process.

  6. Andrew M>

    There is another option: increase the capacity of current roads without expanding them. The vast majority of journeys made in cars don’t actually need cars to make them in. Some smaller, lighter, lower-powered vehicle would be absolutely fine from a transportation point of view. If we have segregated lanes for light vehicles, most of London will switch to mopeds, tuktuks, and so-on. Suddenly the pitiful South Circ becomes usable, people stop using the M25 as a rat-run, problem solved.

  7. JamesV, you haven’t been on the M60 going through J25 at Bredbury near Stockport then. 50mph speed limit with average speed cameras on the bend there. Yes there are average speed cameras, not fixed speed ones, but the stretch is so short it might as well be fixed speed ones.

  8. @SBML,

    actually that’s on my “rat run” when I visit the UK. Where they have the average speed checks, everyone goes at the same speed anyway so the only way to break the limit enough to get a ticket is to weave in and out.

  9. it seems odd to hear someone who doesn’t drive a whole lot on the M25 asking for road-pricing…..as in the world of the legendary WGCE, it’s the other people who pay taxes.

  10. @ Andrew M
    The best way to improve public transport is to allow a non-unionised competitor whereupon, also, fares would decline.

  11. There are two ways to ease congestion: (1) price some people off the roads, or (2) build more roads. (I suppose there is a third option, improving public transport, but have you seen the cost of a train ticket lately?!)

    a) yes, this works.
    b) no, this has been repeatedly demonstrated not to work in the context of urban commuter roads.
    c) this works. Also, people who lie that public transport is expensive are lying, at least in the context of London, which Tim’s point is.

    The best way to improve public transport is to allow a non-unionised competitor

    There is nothing preventing a non-unionised competitor, apart from the fact that everyone who isn’t a crazed ideologue knows that such an enterprise wouldn’t make any money.

  12. (worth noting that the “proved not to work” point applies to new urban motorways that are not tolled. Where the urban motorways are tolled, then they can indeed relieve congestion…)

  13. Tim, it is central London, not the M25 where the average speed never rises above 12 mph.
    That is why the roads on the London Marathon route are closed to traffic during the race as the cars would get in the way of the faster runners.

  14. @ john b
    “There is nothing preventing a non-unionised competitor”
    Don’t talk rot
    The franchising system and TUPE
    After WWI, there were “pirate buses” plying the streets of London which were, I was informed by a totally reliable source, preferred by passengers, especially schoolchildren.

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