London has long felt people can't be trusted to defend themselves. Now it's on the verge of deciding they can't be trusted to ride motorcycles, either. The Edgeware & Mill Hill Times reports on an attempt to electronically prevent bikes from breaking the speed limit:
Motorbikes and scooters could be fitted with electronic devices to keep them to the speed limit, Transport for London board papers reveal.The above article is a masterpiece of misdirection. First, note that the number of casualities isn't necessarily rising; concern over it is. The actual number could be rising, falling, or staying the same. The article doesn't tell us.
Concern is rising over the number of motorcycle casualties across London, and TfL are considering introducing intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) devices to cut accident rates. A report has been commissioned into the use of ISA devices, which will be published this summer, and road manager Peter Hendy has suggested that the idea be looked at by TfL's safety committee.
In Barnet, a six per cent reduction in the number of casualties was achieved last year, while outer London boroughs recorded, on average, a fall of 14 per cent.
"This is one of a number of things we are considering," said a spokesman for TfL. "But we would hope that other measures could achieve cuts in casualties."
Second, presumably we're meant to infer that the declines in Barnet and outer London boroughs were due to speed-regulating devices, but the article doesn't actually say such devices were used. The drops might be due to other factors.
Third, the article doesn't mention whether high speed by the motorcycle rider is a factor in these accidents. An increase in bike crashes might be due to an increase in irresponsible driving by car owners. You can install all the speed-limiting gadgetry you want on a motorcycle, and it still won't make a difference if a car runs a red light and slams into it. (And as we've seen before in Britain, cars are often the problem.)
But even if a wave of motorcycle casualties were sweeping across London, and even if excessive speed were to blame, electronic limiters would still be a bad idea.
Bad, because safety, while important, is not all-important. Other things matter, too like the freedom to do as you like, the responsibility of using that freedom wisely, and the knowledge that you will bear the consequences of your own actions.