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Riding two-up with Big Brother

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.

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."
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.

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.


Anonymous said...

"...the responsibility of using that freedom wisely, and the knowledge that you will bear the consequences of your own actions."

The only problem is that in britian everyone bears the responsiblity of paying everyone else's health bills. So one of the basic premise of your argument (bearing the consequences of your actions) does not exist in britian. Which i by no means agree with that situation, but given the situation, the law becomes quite logical.

Bascially, they are to far down the path to dark side listen to reason. 

Posted by cube

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for Britain they don't have a Constitution, whereby this silly measure-that-could-soon-become-law might be struck down. It seems inherently against the idea of liberty, in that one has the right to engage in an activity freely and, in the event one excceds legal limits, pay a fine or lose the right to continue said activity. Measures like this take the biker's choice out altogether. What a childish, Nanny-state way of saying you don't trust your citizens, and therefore will bring your superior knowledge and morality to bear on them.

Wait. That sounds an awful lot like the Democrats, doesn't it? 

Posted by langtry

Sharon said...

cube: That's a good point about collective responsibility for health care costs being the onus upon Brits to be more proactive in regards to activities that are inherently more dangerous to ones' physical health. If this was their rationale, it would require them to also install these same chips in cars. Clearly, this isn't the case.

Quite simply they're doing it because motorcyclists constitute a minority constituency, and most Britons aren't likely to care about limits being placed on bikers. Talk about doing this to their cars, however, and there'd be no end to the uproar.

Anonymous said...

Do they mention that riders sometimes need to break speed limits in order to save [i]themselves[/i] from serious harm? Sounds like, yet again, somebody who is not involved with something trying to dictate the actions of those who are involved. Nobody know what a morotrcyclist has to go through to stay alive in traffic, unless they are a motorcyclist themselves.


Posted by Kresh



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