‘The police have better things to do than’………

This is probably a phrase that many of us have used when we’ve heard about an incident which is either of no consequence to us or is one we regularly participate in but which is actually against some law or regulation.

So when we say it are we in reality saying ‘well I would break that law too’ or ‘that law should be abolished because I regularly break it’; is it actually simply an expression of our frustration or even selfishness? Let’s see what you think the Police ‘have better things to do than’ – here are 5 examples:-

Enforcing speed limits?
Stopping pavement parking by drivers?
Tackling cyclists who ride on pavements?
Prosecuting motorists with no Road Tax or insurance?
Fining people who break ‘lockdown’ rules?

I could go on, but I think you’ll have got my drift by now i.e. if we park on pavements we won’t want the police/local council to enforce the regulations on it will we? However, if we are a pedestrian/blind/disabled/or pushing a pram we probably will want them to. The same applies to the other ‘crimes’ I’ve listed and indeed potentially many that I’ve not.

In short we’ll often be affronted by the anti-social/criminal behaviours of others whilst conveniently ignoring our own less than community minded activities. Indeed, can we sit on both sides of the fence by for example grumbling about the vehicle on the pavement when we’ve had to step into the road to get around it whilst dumping our own car on any pavement available when we want to park close to the chippy, hairdressers, chemist etc. etc.? The answer, of course, is yes we can!

Oh and one final thing, why are many of the things we can react to in this way associated with travel and how we go about it?

Speeding – Is it an addiction akin to alcoholism/drugs?

There can be little doubt that driving standards have plunged during lockdown and that this has mainly manifested itself via excessive speeding. That’s certainly been my experience travelling around Sefton and West Lancashire by car, cycle and indeed walking.

We had quite a number of weeks when there was little or no traffic on our roads and this seemingly became an invitation to those who enjoy/can’t resist speeding to put their clogs to the floor in both urban and rural areas regardless of pretty much anything. ‘We can so we will’ and they certainly have been doing! Maybe they thought the police would be enforcing social distancing and would not be bothered about speeding?

But now speeding become the norm will the petrol heads slow down as our roads are pretty much back to what they used to be? Frankly I’m not sure. Yes they’ll be slowed by the weight of traffic but will the urge to speed mean they’ll take greater risks to get past anything which slows them down? Or put another way once you’ve had a taste of speeding and done it regularly can you stop the addiction?

I’d like to see the stats for speeding enforcement on Merseyside and in Lancashire during lockdown as logically more speeding tickets should have been handed out assuming of course that police resources have not been reallocated elsewhere.

But what are our two local police forces going to do to try to normalise traffic speeds? Letting them rise was an inadvertent consequence of less traffic on our roads, bring them back down may well be a much harder task.

And yes I know some of you reading this will say the police have better things to do than fine motorists but you may have a different thought if a relative or friend is killed walking a country lane, cycling a local road or even being in a vehicle hit by another driven far too fast.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the most important and vulnerable thing on our highways is the pedestrian followed by cyclists. Only after that come powered vehicles.

My point in raising this issue once again is that if someone is caught say 2nd or 3rd time speeding within a specified period then is there not a reason to look upon that driver as someone with an addiction problem who needs help? They may also need to be stopped driving until their addiction has been tackled.

‘And he drove the fastest milkcart in the west’ – and serious speeding matters too

Edie Pope’s scarecrow traffic cop on Southport Road Lydiate, which is meant to make drivers think about their speed.

Yes a line from that well known Benny Hill song. But the other day whilst on one of my solo fitness cycle rides I came across a rival to Ernie (for that was the name of the fastest milkman in the west) on Northway/A59 in Aughton.

I was just about to exit Winifred Lane when down the hill from the Ormskirk direction came a milk float doing a fair old lick. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one doing more than 15 mph and that with a following wind too. But the ‘souped up’ one I saw made me smile and that daft old song came back to mind.

Then a few days later another surprising experience with another vehicle we usually see going very slowly – a bin wagon. But this one was out at 8.30pm (never seen one out that late before) and it hurtled along Southport Road, Lydiate in a northerly direction at what must have been well above the 30mph speed limit. Indeed, it went so fast I could not read the signs upon it!

But it was not your usual Sefton Council bin wagon; much smaller and probably with a ‘Jaguar engine’ added to give Police cars a run for their money:-) Again the experience made me smile but this time grimace as well.

These two somewhat bizarre events happened with our roads being generally very quiet as a consequence of our health crisis. But sadly there is a real issue underneath as speeding in this crisis is happening everywhere and most of the time. Clear roads have given petrol heads or at least the most irresponsible of them what they think is a green light to drive at whatever speed suits them and beggar the consequences/speed limits.

Being a cyclist I notice speeding and frankly the antics are off the scale during this crisis whether it be in a ‘bin lorry’ or a car. It’s ironic that at the request of a fellow Lydiate Parish Councillor, Neil Spencer, Merseyside Police had a speed trap on Southport Road in Lydiate just before our health crisis hit. Now we have far less vehicles on this busy road but many of them have drivers with their clog firmly down to the boards. If this continues there’s bound to be a terrible accident……..

Stop Press – An as if to emphasise the point I’ve been trying to make about speeding a lady driver nearly did for me on the Ashworth Motorway junction this morning. Due to the road works around the junction the contractors temporarily sealed off the access to the cycle track around it about a week ago. This in turn forces cyclists onto the island itself and what I’ve always got my eye out for happened this morning i.e. a car from the Melling direction came hurtling around the island and found me crossing the entrance to the eastbound carriageway of the M58. But not content with having to slow down to avoid me she then blew her horn as if I had no right to be there! I was cycling around a roundabout for goodness sake, that meant I had right of way. OL she was just a bad tempered driver but if she had not been driving so fast……. Oh and by the way where are the signs warning drivers that cyclists will be in the road? If there are any I didn’t see them.

Maghull to Netherton – So many speed limits!

There’s a road that starts in Maghull and effectively runs all the way to the Edge Lane traffic lights by Bootle and Netherton Fire Station. It has various names along it’s relatively short length and even more speed limits.

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Starting with Sefton Lane at the junction with Liverpool Road South in Maghull it is 30mph. Just after it becomes Bridges Lane the limit rises to 40mph. When it becomes Brickwall Lane its back down to 30mph through Sefton Village, coming out of the Village it rises to 40mph and then across the junction with the new Brooms Cross Road it rises again to 50mph. Finally in drops to 40mph from there along Buckley Hill Lane to the Fire Station. This road is only 2 miles long in total!

Talk about confusing the motorist although you try sticking to 30mph through Sefton Village and see how many try to overtake you – it happens to me virtually every day.