Azara Blog: November 2011 archive complete

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Date published: 2011/11/13

The Lib Dems want all of Cambridge roads to be 20mph (permanent blog link)

The Lib Dems, representing the sanctimonious middle (i.e. rich) class, hate drivers (excepting themselves). They have spent the last decade and more in Cambridge trying to screw car drivers in every way possible. Their latest ploy is to reduce the speeds on all city streets from 30 to 20 mph. They leafleted (at least part of) Cambridge with this proposal, seeking feedback.

Of course you can always dress up this kind of policy proposal in terms of safety, and that is obviously their main argument. So at 40 mph, allegedly only 10% of children involved in a collision survive, whereas at 30 mph it is allegedly 50% and at 20 mph it is allegedly 90%.

The UK ruling elite have spent the last decade and more trying to bludgeon drivers with the message about how much safer 30 mph is than 40 mph. Evidently now we are into the next phase, where instead they will bludgeon drivers with the message that 20 mph is much safer than 30 mph. And it is.

But why stop there? Why not 15 mph? This is much safer than 20 mph. Why not 10 mph? Why not 5 mph? Why not 0 mph? After all, a bus, and even a cycle, moving at 5 mph *could* kill a child. So the only logical conclusion is that no non-pedestrian movement should be allowed at all in Cambridge, or elsewhere for that matter.

There are plenty of roads in Cambridge where a 20 mph limit probably does make sense. But there are also plenty of roads in Cambridge where a 30 mph, and indeed even a 40 mph limit, make sense. For example, Trumpington Road south of Brooklands Avenue was 40 mph until a few years ago, when the Cambridgeshire ruling elite decided, for no particular reason, that it should be reduced to 30 mph, a limit which many drivers ignore. Now the Lib Dems want to reduce that to 20 mph, for no particular reason, and you can pretty much guarantee that all drivers will ignore that.

One of the reasons given by the Lib Dems for making the 20 mph limit universal in Cambridge is that it would result in fewer signs "cluttering roadsides". And they say that "Many residents believe that our local streets are already too cluttered with unnecessary signs". What they fail to say is that "many" simply means the academic middle class people who dominate Cambridge, who cannot seem to cope with any manifestation of life in the 20th century (never mind 21st). This is a pretty pathetic reason to argue for a universal limit.

One obvious side effect of a universal limit it that will turn every driver in Cambridge into a criminal, for disobeying the limit. Needless to say, the usual academic middle class people who run Cambridge, including the Lib Dems and the usual cycling lobby, will tut tut about how horrible drivers are, when the real problem is the idiotic policy that the ruling elite have imposed.

The leaflet says that "The Cambridge News recently reported that many residents are flouting existing 20mph limits because they don't know they are in a 20 zone". Well possibly that is because the zones do not make sense and are poorly signed. They have been imposed where the activist middle class have managed to get them imposed, and not elsewhere, so there is no particular rhyme or reason to any of it. This is hardly justification for a universal 20mph limit.

Part of the leaflet distributed by the Lib Dems is a survey about this proposed policy. Q1 is just about fair enough, asking "Do you support the idea of a 20mph zone across Cambridge?", with answers Yes, No and Maybe. Well, of course you can guarantee they will sum up the Yes and Maybe as being people who support this Lib Dem policy.

Q2 asks "What reasons would you give for your answer to Question 1?". It's hard to know what they will do with this since it is free text, which is difficult to deal with in the analysis of surveys.

Q3 asks "Do you think road safety is a problem in Cambridge?", with Yes, No and Maybe again the three possible answers. Of course even if you believe that road safety might be a problem, it does not mean you agree with a 20mph limit (universal or otherwise). But you can guarantee that the Lib Dems will take any sign of agreeing with this question as support for their policy.

Q4 is really bad. It says: "Some people believe that 20mph speed limits are most observed when they are consistent. Do you think we should have a 20mph limit for all roads in the city, or just in residential areas?" Unfortunately the only answers are "Same everywhere", "Residential only" and "Undecided". So "Nowhere" is not an option, as far as the Lib Dems are concerned. Well, they can use the result of this question to prove that everyone either supports a 20mph limit somewhere or is undecided. This is a classic bad question of the sort that disingenuous organisations put onto surveys to try and get out the answer they want.

Q5 asks what forms of transport you use. Q6 asks which political party you support at election time, as if this has anything to do with the survey. (But they do say it is "optional", which is just as well.)

Of course the biggest problem with this survey is that responses to it will be dominated by the academic middle class, in particular the cycling lobby, and the other usual suspects. They will not obtain a representative sample of the city, and certainly not a representative sample of people who use transport in Cambridge. But you can guarantee they will claim the result is representative. This is the insidious nature of these kinds of surveys.

Friends of the Earth supports ridiculous solar energy subsidies (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Environmental charity Friends of the Earth is to take the government to court over plans to halve subsidies for households which install solar panels.

The charity said it had written to the government and asked it to agree to amend its proposals by Friday, but said it received only a "holding response".

It comes after the CBI criticised the government's decision to halve the "feed-in tariffs" earlier than planned.

The government said it would defend the challenge at judicial review.

"We're consulting on proposed new tariffs for a reason - to protect consumers from footing the bill for excessive subsidies," a spokeswoman said.

Under the "feed-in tariffs" programme, people in Britain with solar panels are paid for the electricity they generate.

The new tariff of 21p per kilowatt-hour, down from the current 43p, will take effect from 1 April, but in October the government said it would be paid to anyone who installs their solar panels after 12 December.

Once again Friends of the Earth has shown that it might as well be called Enemies of the People. This feed-in tariff represents a massive transfer of wealth from poor people to rich people, because it is the latter who are installing these solar panels, and it is the former who pay for it in terms of increased electricity bills.

Even the revised tariff is far too high, because it is still above what ordinary people actually pay for the normal retail rate of electricity, and anyone who wants to generate electricity should only be paid the wholesale rate, not the retail rate.

All in all this whole subsidy idea is a ridiculous policy and the sooner the government removes the subsidies completely, the better. Energy subsidies (implicit or explicit) are what have created the relevant environmental problems in the first place. You would think that a so-called environmental group might understand this, since it is just Environmentalism 101.

It is never a good sign when a so-called environmental group is on the same side of an issue as the CBI. Of course the latter wants the subsidies to continue because they represent corporate welfare, which the CBI can never seem to say no to.

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