Thursday, 29 September 2016

Calmed to death

Over the past thirty years, humps seem to have multiplied inexorably across the roads of Britain. Some see them as a valuable tool to improve safety and produce a calmer environment, while others regard them as essentially a malicious impediment to road users that result in nothing but frayed tempers. No prizes for guessing which camp I fall into. I’m entirely with newspaper columnist Tom Utley when he says “Just as the private car is the embodiment of the concept of freedom, in metal and rubber, so the speed bump represents in tarmac the essence of regulation, nannying and political interference.”

But, whatever you may think of them, it can’t be denied that humps are a very effective method of diverting traffic to other routes. Providing that the alternative is free-flowing, drivers will go out of their way to avoid a humped road. And – whisper it softly – this may have been a factor in the demise of more than one pub.

It may be politically incorrect to say so, but outside of town and city centres, the vast majority of customers visiting pubs who haven’t walked there will have arrived by car. Once you have decided to use the car, you will have a wider choice of potential pubs available to you than if walking, and the ease of getting there is a consideration in which you plump for. It may even be a subconscious factor, but given two pubs of roughly equal attractiveness, the one that involves crashing over a half-mile obstacle course starts to seem less appealing.

One pub where I’m sure this has been a factor is the High Grove in Gatley, which closed earlier this year. I wrote “its potential must have been severely damaged by the installation of a particularly vicious traffic calming scheme on both approach roads about fifteen years ago, which would have been a major deterrent to developing any destination food trade.” The traffic calming effectively meant it lost any chance of appealing to out-of-area customers.

In the 1980s I remember visiting the then newly-opened Shady Oak in Bramhall for lunch when working nearby, but afterwards the estate on which it was situated received “the treatment” and it wasn’t long before it went evenings-only during the week*. And the dramatic pub carnage in Mottram and Broadbottom, with seven out of eight having closed, surely can’t be entirely unrelated to another severe hump scheme installed during the Nineties.

Basically, if your pub is in a location that has been “calmed”, you effectively abandon all hope of attracting outside trade if there are any nearby alternatives.

*Although I see from the WhatPub entry that it now opens at noon every day. But, perhaps ominously, it’s owned by New River Retail

20 comments:

  1. Two of the worst things about speed bumps are the effect they have on drivers or passengers with health conditions susceptible to sudden jolting (back pain, joint problems, diseases of the nervous system) and their slowing down of ambulances, meaning it now takes longer to reach calls and to transport patients in a life-threatening situation to hospital, no doubt leading to far more unnecessary deaths than "traffic calming" has ever prevented.

    They're a highly visible and cheap way for councils to appear to be doing something about speeding in residential areas, even if motorists just drive faster in between them, and a prime example of a policy based on populism rather than evidence.

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  2. Humps can be very jolting in double decker buses too.

    Are they actually cheaper then speed cameras then?

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    Replies
    1. I'm sure they are, especially in terms of ongoing running costs.

      And they often force vehicles to travel at a speed well below the speed limit.

      Delete
  3. The most heavily obstructed pub I know is the Hermit at Burley Woodhead on the edge of Ilkley Moor.

    Check it out on Google Images

    If it wasn't run by a hermit before Bradford Council put the humps in, it is now.

    Pity as its such a nice Country Pub in a beautiful location

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  4. "a malicious impediment to road users that result in nothing but frayed tempers"

    Nothing but? They do a lot more than that.

    They wreck your tyres, damage dampers, and can even cause actual fracture of suspension components.

    And none of that requires you to be going anywhere near the speed limit on the road in question.

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  5. The main object of the post was not to attack speed humps per se, but to make the point that they can be damaging to the trade of pubs as well as to car suspensions. But, hey, why not rattle a few cages along the way?

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  6. Sad as it is to see a pub close, I find people dying sadder.

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    Replies
    1. Classic example of the Burden of Proof fallacy there.

      A: "We're going to put in some road humps to improve road safety."

      B: "I'm not convinced they're effective, and they damage vehicles."

      A: "So you're happy to see children die then."

      Delete
  7. Speed bumps installed; pub closes. Cause and effect, or would it have closed anyway? There are multiple reasons for pub closures, as you and I have recently discussed. As for speed bumps, I'm a driver and they don't really bother me that much.

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    1. "I like running, but I'm not really bothered by having to climb over a five-bar gate every hundred yards."

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    2. Doesn't answer what I wrote.

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    3. So if the A565 between Southport and Formby was given humps every hundred yards, you wouldn't be really bothered? Good luck with that one...

      Delete
  8. As a sample of one, I can't think of anywhere, in any context, that I have not gone to as a destination due to speed bumps. So your argument seems to me a rather odd one.

    I drive; and cycle; and I'm no great fan of speed bumps: however a lot of drivers view the freedom which as you stated the motor car gives (and which I welcome) as a licence for unfettered selfishness and lack of consideration to others. In some cases, speed bumps can at least ameliorate that selfishness.

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    1. Ah yes, extrapolating from a sample of one is always a great debating technique.

      OK, consider this scenario, which I'd say is entirely reasonable and commonplace. You're working in an office on a business park. You decide to go out for a sandwich and a drink (probably a diet Coke) on Friday lunchtime. There are two pubs about a mile and a half away, which in terms of quality are much of a muchness. One is reached along smooth, unhumped roads, the other involves negotiating 1000 yards of humps. And that really isn't going to influence your decision?

      Delete
  9. Oh come come, Alan. FOR THE J Bonnington Jagworths of this world - which seems to include Smudge - the reduction in pedestrian deaths can never be a worthwhile payback for restricting their freedom. The Utley quote which he includes seems to imply that there should be no restriction at all on the freedom of motorists to terrorise other road users.

    That "the private car is the embodiment of the concept of freedom" may be true for the driver of that car but for pedestrians the private car is a prison which make their lives dangerous and inconvenient. The right wing philosophy that a person in a motor car is worth any number of pedestrians is rendering most small towns uninhabitable and, no doubt, reducing trade at the town centre pubs.

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    Replies
    1. No need to send your comments twice to get your message across, David.

      Anyway, you're just spouting the same tendentious crap you used to do on the SafeSpeed forums.

      You do, I assume, recognise me as one of the chief lieutenants of the late, great Paul Smith?

      Delete
  10. The late, but not very great, Paul Smith I think you mean. I would be interested to know, though, why you consider defending the rights of pedestrians over motorists to be "tendentious crap".

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    Replies
    1. But pedestrians' rights vs motorists' rights isn't a zero-sum game. And humps are nothing more than a crude, physical-force means of curbing speed.

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    2. No. But not all zero sum games are tendentious crap. I agree that speed humps are a very poor way of controlling speed and are very disadvantageous to public service vehicles. But, given that other methods of curbing speed have failed (and that might not be a given) what else is available. Speed cameras? :-)

      Delete
    3. If you want to continue this discussion further, the Safe Speed Forums are still active. AFAIK you're not (at present) banned.

      Delete

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