Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Mr Honda Concerto ought to agree with my take on rural speed

THE Honda's rear haunches have never looked so frustrating. Even though it was the crack of dawn on a dry weekend morning, Mr Concerto was dawdling.

Bikers among this column's readers will already know why the Cat and Fiddle road, between Macclesfield and Buxton, is worth seeking out - and why it's such a regular visitor to all those accident statistic surveys as a result. It is, carefully driven, a stunning route across the Pennines well worth seeking out. If you've brought a car - and not a superbike - the 50mph speed limit is plenty, but Mr Concerto was having none of it. He was determined I'd be doing 28mph, and not one measly mile an hour more. A great drive ruined by someone dangerously determined not to be overtaken.

Anyway, it was all part of my quest to answer a question I left hanging a couple of weeks back - is it better to head somewhere the fun way or the quick one? The answer, unless you're absolutely insistent that every journey must go via the Buttertubs Pass in the Yorkshire Dales, is emphatically the quick one. On a really long drive motorways are infinitely preferable to getting lost in Mansfield's one way system.

Besides, little country lanes are going to get slower still if the Coalition gets its way; successive governments have struggled to deal with rural accident rates, and now Cameron and Clegg (which, by the way, sounds like a dodgy estate agent) have hit on a solution. Rather than a blanket reduction, they're considering making it easier for local authorities to lower limits as they choose. It is The Big Society versus speed.

For what it's worth, I reckon it's a good idea - there are far too many winding lanes which you could technically shoot down at sixty, but to try would be lethally dangerous, and chances are your local council knows more about accident hotspots than Whitehall does. Great power, however, comes with great responsibility.

If I head to somewhere like Lincolnshire or Yorkshire behind the wheel of something sporty, it'd comfort me greatly to know that the speed limit's been considered locally by folk who know the roads. What I emphatically wouldn't want - and what a lot of the nationals reported last weekend - is a blanket lowering of rural limits to 40mph from the current sixty.

I'm not a speed freak - a proper petrolhead values good handling over doing a million miles an hour anyway - but what I reckon motorists want is education rather than punishment. We want to know people are actually thinking about road safety rather than just blindly and blanketly laying down the law.

Hopefully, Mr Concerto agrees with me.

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