Blasé speed indifference

‘WE currently do not commit funds to installing 20mph speed limits in their own right,’ a West Sussex Highways spokesman says (quoted in WSG, July 13). ‘We recognise the potential value of such schemes but at present they are not a high priority for funding.’

Such blasé indifference is almost as shocking in its way as the news elsewhere in the paper that on July 2 a motorist was clocked doing an insane 130mph on the A27 near Fontwell, and that on the same day a few miles away, in a 30mph zone at Coldwaltham, six motor-bikes managed within six seconds to register between 54 and 60mph apiece.

If 20mph schemes are not ‘a high priority for funding’, what is? What have the transport officers been thinking about and jotting in their note-books this long while? The evidence is all round them and has been for years, in every busy village and town centre, of the acute dangers created when vehicles – lorries and buses, not just cars – travel at the 30mph limit.

Sadly, to judge from the spokesman’s flabby language, it seems that thinking seriously about roads and speeds isn’t always a high priority.

The demented people who travel at twice the speed limit are of course ultimately supported in their life-style choices by the very many, more modest speedophiles who find all limits an irritation, even an implied slur on their capacity to judge appropriate speeds, and of course beyond that by the Clarksonian tendency in our culture that in order to fetishize the car has to forget people - people (children and the old being people too, they might recall) who may, amazingly enough, want to cycle along a road, or even cross it.

And so it is rather serious when a widespread absence of up-to-date good sense and good practice as to roads receives, at a basic, official level, in archaic remarks such as the spokesman’s, endorsement by indifference.

In the Spanish town - and village - centres I drove through a couple of months back, the spokesman might care to note, the limit was 20km per hour - about 12.5 mph.

Robert Hull,

Elm Grove, Barnham