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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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A 12 mph speed limit?
Old 12-15-2016   #1
Roger Hicks
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A 12 mph speed limit?

Before you dismiss the idea out of hand, read the argument.

Obviously this is something for the more or less distant future, but it's worth thinking about.

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Old 12-15-2016   #2
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Won't work in the US. We have far too many people on the road anyway and the 50~60K a year that die in traffic accidents help relieve the pressure to add even more lanes to the overcrowded interstate highway system. Besides, in town we have to show we be real men and race from stoplight to stoplight because gas is already too cheap and if we save any more the oil companies might go bankrupt and then many lobbyist jobs will be lost and then we'll wind up with dudes in three piece suits standing on street corners with signs;
"Will lobby for food"

Or something like that.

Gotta go get my aluminum foil hat, later Roger.
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Old 12-15-2016   #3
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Why not just have done with it and ban automobiles? That's what a national 12mph speed limit would be trying to do.
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Old 12-15-2016   #4
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The world is becoming more impatient, not less.
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Old 12-15-2016   #5
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Meanwhile, the Governor of my State (Michigan) may sign a bill raising speed limits on select rural roads from 70 mph (112 kph) to 75 mph (120 kmh).

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Old 12-15-2016   #6
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Stupid eco-terrorism.
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Old 12-15-2016   #7
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We'll all be in autonomous vehicles before too long, and road accidents will be uncommon...
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Old 12-15-2016   #8
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Really Roger? Set the automobile back 120 years? I suspect that only devout cyclists would ever go for such an idea. A little thought suggests the world economy would collapse, deliveries would take forever and all those company reps dashing everywhere at 90mph would have to set out days in advance instead of minutes. Add to that that you'd eliminate the high-end car market (e.g. a Ferrari only capable of 12mph, you think it'll sell?) and even the low-end would be emasculated. I suspect the automotive manufacturers would oppose it vehemently

On the other hand, the power needed to travel at 12mph is minimal, aerodynamics can pretty much be ignored so cars might become more individual in style rather than near-clones. Not to mention electric cars would become a practical reality almost overnight (once we've replaced all the fossil-fuel powered ones).

Nice idea in some ways, just not very realistic but I'm sure you knew that!
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Old 12-15-2016   #9
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I'm guessing you don't have many autonomous vehicles where you live? They're quite common here in silly-con valley. Besides the weird stuff on the top, they're very easy to spot: they're the only vehicles obeying all traffic laws!

With robo-cars, speed limits won't be necessary, as the vehicles will drive at the speed that's safest and most efficient for the conditions. Poor "visibility," wet roads, etc.? They'll all slow to a reasonable speed. There's no need for the same speed limit for a long freeway, the cars can all go faster or slower as is appropriate. If the conditions and the curve of the road means one section is best done at 103.2kph and another at 116.5kph, then all the vehicles will go at the same speed. Also, no more need for traffic lights or signs, except perhaps walk signals.

Since private car ownership will likely eventually become as common as private horse ownership, most robocars will be summoned per trip from a fleet owned by a rental company, so most will be electric, and a few will be hybrid electric, and a very small number might be all dead-dinosaur-fueled. If you need to go 30km, enter that info into your app, and a car with at least 50km of range will show up to take you, then go off to the next user. Since most trips are short, electric cars will be cheaper for the fleet owners to own and maintain. If you need a weekend trip far away, you'll rent a larger vehicle with longer range and pay accordingly. Many people own the "1 week" car instead of the "51 week" car: i.e.: they go on a long camping trip one week per year, so get a large vehicle with off-road capabilities, that is horribly impractical for their needs for the other 51 weeks of the year. If you don't own the vehicle, you just request the one that serves your needs for the trip. The fleet owners will notice what's wanted and needed and adjust their fleets accordingly. In more rural areas, a group of neighbors could become a cooperative fleet owner, instead of relying on some large company that might not want to serve their area.

If you average 2.4 hours/day of driving or less, then your car is idle 90%+ of the time. Just sitting there, depreciating in value, using up real estate. Robocar fleets could probalby be used 50% or more of the time (obviously the demand at 1AM won't equal the demand at 8AM, but smart fleet owners could "lease" their unused cars for package delivery or other uses during low times). The total number of cars needed will drop significantly.

A lot of people react to the idea of autonomous vehicles with the attitude of "I'll never want to give up control!" or "I love driving!" My answer to both of those is: in a robocar, you get to nap! How many long, tedious drives do you take compared to pleasant ones? Wouldn't you rather be doing work, reading news, reading inflammatory echo-chamber fake news, reading something nice, watching the scenery, or taking a nap during those long drives instead? I sure would.
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Old 12-15-2016   #10
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Roger,

Here in NYC there is a program called "Vision Zero" to primarily just slow down the level of pedestrian deaths. Anyways that was the intent. The speed limit was lowered to 25 mph from 30 mph because some study showed that survival rates increase when pedestrians get hit at modestly slower speeds and mortality rates drop.

In theory this is a good idea, and there is quantitative research that supports the slightly slower speed saves lives, but there are unintended consequences.

First there is more congestion, more gridlock, and commute times become extended, but the unintended consequence is that lowering the speed limit in NYC has actually increased the amount of pedestrian deaths.

Last year by the end of October 2015, as many people died as of all of 2014, and there were two more months of fatalities to add to the tally. This corresponds and correlates to the change in speed limit when Mayor DeBlasio took office and instituted this change. Also know that these deaths are not people just crossing an intersection, but include people walking on sidewalks, or people inside a shop that get hit by a car. BTW I was almost "pancaked" on the sidewalk at the doorway of my building in 2015 by a cab. I could of been one of those numbers.

In walking around NYC one takes notice of the added danger because Type A personalities have reacted to the unintended consequences of more congestion, more gridlock, and longer commute times by driving more aggressively.

I will take note that in Toronto people really follow the laws. At intersections Canadians do not jay-walk, cars yield to pedestrians, and pedestrians and drivers respect right of way. In comparison here in NYC it is just the opposite. Basically here in NYC it always is a free-for-all, there may be laws, but basically no one follows them, well not all of them. LOL.

Another unintended consequence is they retimed the traffic lights on the Avenues to the lower speed limit. I was at 79th Street on Third Avenue on my single speed bike. In my younger days I raced bicycles, and at 58 I am still remarkably fit. I started uptown on Third Avenue as the light was turning yellow, and I knew if I accelerated into the traffic that I might be able to "time the lights" and basically flow though traffic without ever getting stopped by a light like a cab driver.

This requires rather aggressive riding, weaving around double parked vehicles, turning vehicals and basically "taking a lane" as if one was a motorcycle or car because there is no bike lanes on Third Avenue. I was able to maintain the flow of traffic from 79th Street to 101st where I could of continued, but I reached my destination.

Anyways I can't ever see lowering the speed limit working, at least not here in NYC. Interesting though if you divide 26.2, the length of a Marathon, by 12 mph you get 2 hours and 18 minutes. A pretty good time, but you would not win the NYC Marathon.

Cal
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Old 12-15-2016   #11
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Our neighbors drove to Yellow (not after them) Stone park in USA from Ontario. They show us pictures they took in some American town where similar speed limit is posted. Main street has four or more lanes and driving on empty wide road in small town feels ceremonial.

Local eco-pro (but not for real) provincial and ex pro-Canadian jobs (may be not so) federal government left local electric car project unsupported, while giving cash back (from provincial money) for electrical cars from Detroit.
If government cares for going electrical on the reads (as they claim in Ontario), the speed limit should be lowered on major highways for maximum speed of electrical bikes and affordable electrical cars which are possible to build now and then.
It will also help with implementing of driver less cars and keeping of local roads safe.
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Old 12-15-2016   #12
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Don't know how it is over there, Roger, but here, the problem is there is no requirement that you know how to drive. I know, that doesn't sound right, but, at 77, I've had one driving test when I was 14. The questions they ask on the written test to renew your license are stupid, and, I haven't had to take that the last three times I've renewed. I just pay my money, they take my photo, and I'm on my way.
If I was King, everyone would have to have a good written test and driving test at least every five years.
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Old 12-15-2016   #13
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Roger,

Vision Zero was started in 2014, and perhaps 2015 that I cited was the first full year.

On November 29th 2016 a "New York Post" article quotes Mayor DeBlasio saying, "The city is ramping up Vision Zero in efforts to protect pedestrians who are being killed at a a higher rate this year than at 2015."

Also quoted is another official who says, "We recognize two years ago that the reality of traffic safety in our city had to be addressed that we had almost as many traffic related fatalities as homocides."

In a separate article it was stated, " 2015 the year to date number of traffic fatalities as of November 28th was 209 fatalities including 120 pedestrians."

It was also reported that in November 2016 there was a 5% increase over November 2015.

There could be other explainations, but here on the ground I think the trend continues and Vision Zero is to blame. BTW last week I came pretty close to getting hit by a Mercedes. I had the walk sign at an intersection and a driver made a right turn and came really close to knee capping me with his bumper. What saved me was instinct. I jumped sideways and kinda did a pushup off his hood. The driver did stop to ask if I was alright because he thought that he hit me.

It was after dusk. I was wearing dark clothes, so I contributed to the driver not seeing me. Evidently fatalities go up for pedestrians after the end of Daylight Savings Time. I need to be more mindful of this.

Cal
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Old 12-15-2016   #14
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In Spain there was some initiative to elevate the Highway max speed to 140km/h from 110-120km/h. The country has really good construction and railway contractors, yet terrible political planning.

I'm more towards the usage of public transport and the pedestrian+cycle priority in old towns and centers.

Studied College in Barcelona, a city that has been integrating cyclists and lanes. I don't live there but living 35mi west down the coast, I just commuted daily. My hometown is a sort of Holiday resort in the coast, but it's not that cyclable having just the few rural roads and the beach promenade. I don't do roads with the bike because drivers here aren't very gentle.

In summer? The beach area is hell. Uncyclable due to beach pedestrian and cars everywhere. Heard they want to improve the cycle friendliness.
There is a midsized city 12-14km from here and in summer, a single trip can take 45min.
Car here is good Point to Point in less dense areas.

Roger, you posted Tarragona in your old website, but don't know if you might be familiar with my area northeast of it (Before Vilanova and Sitges).

Couple of days ago I stumbled upon an article that claimed "compact" cities (not so sprawled) were more ecofriendly saving up on distances. Linked was: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/09/0...ste-of-sprawl/

Jesus, the Greater Atlanta is as large as Catalonia is!

Then, the old world cities and towns were designed around walking pace and horses (cycles now do relate quite well to them IMO).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Calzone View Post
Roger,

Here in NYC there is a program called "Vision Zero" to primarily just slow down the level of pedestrian deaths. Anyways that was the intent. The speed limit was lowered to 25 mph from 30 mph because some study showed that survival rates increase when pedestrians get hit at modestly slower speeds and mortality rates drop.
(...)
In walking around NYC one takes notice of the added danger because Type A personalities have reacted to the unintended consequences of more congestion, more gridlock, and longer commute times by driving more aggressively.

I will take note that in Toronto people really follow the laws. At intersections Canadians do not jay-walk, cars yield to pedestrians, and pedestrians and drivers respect right of way. In comparison here in NYC it is just the opposite. Basically here in NYC it always is a free-for-all, there may be laws, but basically no one follows them, well not all of them. LOL.

Cal
There is a Vision Zero in Sweden, dunno if the NYC is Swedish inspired because of the common naming. Ha! The Scandinavians have an extraordinary good planning and initiatives in infrastructures. However, it is a sparse country and that makes things simpler in city planning.

We did talk a bit about traffic and I still recall the couple warning about cyclists flying around and your acquitance that was smashed by one.
NYC is something you don't forget. I mean, walking around Barcelona and hearing the occasional Siren, it just seems like a lullaby here, compared to Madhattan where the rumbler sirens and the echo of the concrete mastodons give a godly presence to the noises at street level; then there is the crazy constant honking. I did like NYC (Madhattan) in that it is rather easy to walk around.

Spain is more akin to the "free for all" attitute rather than Toronto's (or Swedish) respecting attitude.
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Old 12-15-2016   #15
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We have 40km/h zones at certain times around schools, otherwise it's 50km/h in a built up area. As th roads get bigger we go progressively up to 110 km/h on major highways.
Our national road toll per year is around 1000, of them about 15% are pedestrians. At 40km/h, you will be hard pressed to kill a pedestrian unless you crush them, and the difference between 50 and 60 km/h gives you about 10m more space to stop in. It makes no difference to me though, I struggle to get up to 50km/h on my local roads, they're too winding and hilly
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Old 12-15-2016   #16
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Consider the nature of the dialectic: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Do I propose a 12 mph speed limit as a universal solution tomorrow? No. Do I propose it as (part of) a more realistic view of the future, a view that is is not based on the clearly insane premise of endless growth? Yes.

Cheers,

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Old 12-15-2016   #17
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In the UK the apparent speed limit on motorways is 99.99999 mph. An ounce faster is considered reckless, antisocial and madness. It would appear that fiddling with a smartphone is still socially acceptable at any speeds

As a driver of an Austin Seven an average of 12mph is quite an achievement and one has no spare hands for the phone.
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Old 12-15-2016   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unixrevolution View Post
Why not just have done with it and ban automobiles? That's what a national 12mph speed limit would be trying to do.
Really? Have you actually read what I wrote? Especially the last paragraph?

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Old 12-15-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
The world is becoming more impatient, not less.
Indisputable. The question is, can we reverse this? If so, how?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-15-2016   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
Stupid eco-terrorism.
Dear Tom,

I'll assume this was irony/sarcasm.

In the unlikely event that it wasn't, I'd be intrigued to hear your defences of the ways in which you used the word "stupid" and the phrase "eco-terrorism".

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-15-2016   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabelsound View Post
We'll all be in autonomous vehicles before too long, and road accidents will be uncommon...
As in https://www.theguardian.com/technolo...-san-francisco ?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-15-2016   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolves3012 View Post
. . . . Nice idea in some ways, just not very realistic but I'm sure you knew that!
Indeed. But as I said above, consider the nature of the alternatives, and the nature of the dialectic.

Revised idea: radio imposition of the 12 mph limit (via the limiter) in appropriate areas. Dialectic!

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-15-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsdunek View Post
Don't know how it is over there, Roger, but here, the problem is there is no requirement that you know how to drive. I know, that doesn't sound right, but, at 77, I've had one driving test when I was 14. The questions they ask on the written test to renew your license are stupid, and, I haven't had to take that the last three times I've renewed. I just pay my money, they take my photo, and I'm on my way.
If I was King, everyone would have to have a good written test and driving test at least every five years.
As a pilot, I have to take a two oral and flying flight review every two years, and a full physical, including eye test. I believe that has a lot to do with the great and improving aviation safety record.
Dear Bruce,

Frightening, and entirely relevant to the debate (unlike some of the other responses).

Oh: and the approved phrases are "When I am Lord Protector of the Commonwealth" (cf. Cromwell) and "When I am First Consul" (cf. Napoleon).

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-15-2016   #24
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Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
In the UK the apparent speed limit on motorways is 99.99999 mph. . . . .
Intriguing, that, isn't it?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-15-2016   #25
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In the not too distant future we'll have robocars needing no speeding limits anymore.
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Old 12-15-2016   #26
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In the not too distant future we'll have robocars needing no speeding limits anymore.
Insh'Allah. See link in post 21.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-16-2016   #27
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Roger,
Nice to see you back and fighting your corner.

On my time off I drive one of these, mostly, in Wales, in the Summer months.

2000 miles a year - please don't limit me to 12 mph .
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Old 12-16-2016   #28
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Roger, you know how most of drivers act in the country where I live...therefore I do not know how to comment :-)
robert
PS: I'm intrigued how you are able to put question which let us think, debate and...
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Old 12-16-2016   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Dear Tom,

I'll assume this was irony/sarcasm.

In the unlikely event that it wasn't, I'd be intrigued to hear your defences of the ways in which you used the word "stupid" and the phrase "eco-terrorism".

Cheers,

R.
Dear Roger,

no sarcasm was involved in my short statement.

One big fault of this article is, that it assumes that every spot in a country is as crowded as london. So everyone has to suffer only because in one city they could optimize traffic by drastically reducing the speed limit. In the city I live in (350.000 inhabitants) there is one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening where streets are really crowded. The rest of the time you can normally drive at speed limit.

The article contains the typical logic of an eco terrorist. An eco terrorist is a person that tries to terrorize others with his ecological believes. They typically hate cars and want to do everything to make life of car owners as hard as possible. So they write stuff that seems to be consistent and logical but are based on wrong assumptions.

When you put the "ecological awareness" of people on a piece of paper you probably get a gauss curve for the people in Germany with the majority supporting ecological progress at a reasonable pace. When they get the feeling that the price for this is not spread even or it get extreme then you achieve nothing.

Typical situations are the discussions about speed limit on motorways. A lot of people support a general speed limit of 130 on the motorway but you can forget discussion about 120 or even 100. Whoever discusses a general speed limit of 30 in a city has not many friends too.

Most people have a good awareness when something is too much or too restrictive without a clear need.
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Old 12-16-2016   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calzone View Post
Roger,
I will take note that in Toronto people really follow the laws. At intersections Canadians do not jay-walk, cars yield to pedestrians, and pedestrians and drivers respect right of way. In comparison here in NYC it is just the opposite. Basically here in NYC it always is a free-for-all, there may be laws, but basically no one follows them, well not all of them. LOL.
Cal
Cal,
I guess all the Torontonians were away on holidays when you were here, and were replaced by people from somewhere else because I drive here all the time and have never seen any of the behavior you described.
Jay-walking is a regular occurrence, pedestrians who mostly have their heads up their asses anyway walk with their earbuds in or their stupid "devices" glued to their faces and pay no attention to vehicular traffic whatsoever. They cross intersections without ever looking at cars, and amble across as if there are no cars waiting to make right turns.
Similarly the bicyclers drive on the road when they feel like it and then on the sidewalks when it suits them. They go through red lights, don't stop at stop streets, go the wrong way on one way streets, and never signal their intentions to turn.
But despite all the bad behavior by pedestrians and bikers, it is my responsibility because I'm the big, bad car driver to pay for the roads, and then be responsible for their safety without them sharing in the bargain.
Despite the protestations and denials of our Municipal government they are waging a war on cars and measures such as lowering speed limits are part of their (bound to fail) strategy to get us to abandon our vehicles and move to Public Transit.
Please give me a moment to regain my composure and catch my breath......
Thank you.
Robert
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Old 12-16-2016   #31
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The roads where I live in London have 20mph speed restrictions.
Some of which are enforced with speed cameras.

Interestingly the average speed in London is controlled by congestion,
reportedly down to about 15mph.

The average car speed on UK "A" roads at popular times is reportedly 24mph.
( "A" roads are main roads that link large towns )

Source:
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/c...-War-tank.html
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Old 12-16-2016   #32
Roger Hicks
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. . . The article contains the typical logic of an eco terrorist. An eco terrorist is a person that tries to terrorize others with his ecological believes. They typically hate cars and want to do everything to make life of car owners as hard as possible. So they write stuff that seems to be consistent and logical but are based on wrong assumptions.
Dear Tom,

You must be VERY easily terrorized!

Then again, Bertrand Russell said something to the effect that many people would rather die than think, and that many do.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-16-2016   #33
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The average is, of course, only an average. To compute this 12 mph average there are higher speeds involved (that aren't really "high" by the "average" person's measure) and lower speeds involved (probably zero mph in this instance). Not everyone is moving along at 12 mph.

If the concept of a 12 mph speed limit is meant to reduce driving, maybe another idea should be considered to either replace or supplement a limit to speed. How about a limit on the size of fuel tanks. Say vehicles could have no larger than a 3 gallon fuel tank. That would require intense trip planning and frequent stops as well as reduced speed.

As an aside, an acquaintance who once owned a custom chopped Harley with a peanut-size gas tank told me that there was a bridge in his home state that he was unable to cross due to its length and his fuel capacity. He was pretty much assured of running out of fuel before reaching the other side.

But, indeed, there are numerous activities that are traditionally benign that will become more and more suspect as the human population continues to increase over time. Even a youngster like me, at age 68, can conjure up the childhood memory of riding in my dad's truck from out in the country to the nearest town on Saturday morning and never seeing another vehicle on the road.
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Old 12-16-2016   #34
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One of my favourite words is 'hoon'. There are many who would consider themselves not to be 'hoons'...but it wouldn't take much.
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Old 12-16-2016   #35
tom.w.bn
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You must be VERY easily terrorized!
No. ...........
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Old 12-17-2016   #36
Roger Hicks
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No. ...........
So... You equate acts of violence with what I wrote?

What is your definition of a terrorist? "Anyone I can't understand"?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-17-2016   #37
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Roger,
Nice to see you back and fighting your corner.

On my time off I drive one of these, mostly, in Wales, in the Summer months.

2000 miles a year - please don't limit me to 12 mph .
Well, I wasn't suggesting that the 12 mph limit be introduced tomorrow. Or even, necessarily, ever. But I was suggesting that some people might need to think to think a bit harder about the future than is comfortable for some of them!

And even at 12 mph, it's got to be better than compulsory scrapping! I drove a Tri-King once but I've never tried a Moggie.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-17-2016   #38
Roger Hicks
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The average is, of course, only an average. To compute this 12 mph average there are higher speeds involved (that aren't really "high" by the "average" person's measure) and lower speeds involved (probably zero mph in this instance). Not everyone is moving along at 12 mph. . . . Even a youngster like me, at age 68, can conjure up the childhood memory of riding in my dad's truck from out in the country to the nearest town on Saturday morning and never seeing another vehicle on the road.
Exactly. But some people appear to be downright phobic of anything other than what they regard as "normal". Presumably they don't realize that "normal" changes over time.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-17-2016   #39
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So... You equate acts of violence with what I wrote?

What is your definition of a terrorist? "Anyone I can't understand"?

Cheers,

R.
Now I see the problem. I use "terror", "terrorize" as it was always used in the German language before some folks in politics and media tried to give these words a very specific meaning.

When a guy leaves the house every day at 6 in the morning and he says goodby to the wife by using the horn every day, he terrorizes the whole neighborhood. So it could be used for describing repeated and extremely annoying behavior and not necessarily for violence.

Even today if I use the word terrorize, everyone around me knows what I mean and no one thinks about some crazy islamic killers.

Btw: my definition for something I don't understand is art...
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Old 12-17-2016   #40
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Instead of making cars go slower, how about making bicycles go faster? Put a motor in them and call them ... motorcycles.
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