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-Speed Hump Hate 2003-07-23

Posted by clype in Intolerance.

It is rare indeed that Tory leader Mr.Iain Duncan Smith and Middle England can claim common political ground with Mr.Jonathan Miller, Ms.Beryl Bainbridge and Ms.Joan Bakewell.

So what unites them?

— They all oppose speed humps.


‘They shouldn’t be allowed. They’ve ruined our lives. They’ve ruined our peace,’

So says Ms.Kathleen Jones. But it is not the lorries which pass her Leicestershire home which have so upset the 72-year-old. Instead, it is the speed humps recently installed to slow the vehicles which have left her nerves in tatters. Ms.Jones says traffic on the road running 9 metres from her house never used to bother her, but now the noise of lorries braking, negotiating the speed humps, and accelerating off again has become intolerable.

‘I was washing-up this morning and there was such a big bang I thought something was coming through the house.’

Ms.Jones and her husband Ken even blame the vibration caused by vehicles mounting the traffic calming obstacles for shattering double glazing in their porch.

‘We didn’t know what to make of them when they were first put in.

‘But now that I’ve lived near a speed hump I don’t think they do anything to calm the traffic,’ says Mr.Jones.

‘Drivers race up to it, skid, bang over it and speed away in a cloud of pollution.’

Mr.Harold Wilson’s ‘Labour’ government first began to experiment with ‘sleeping policemen’ to slow motorists in the mid-1970s, but in recent months speed humps have been elevated from a minor motoring matter to a political hot potato. The Conservative & Unionists — today holding a transport conference which they hope will win them a reputation as ‘the party of the motorist’ — have voiced concerns about traffic calming measures.

Tory transport spokesman Mr.Tim Collins recently said ‘unnecessary’ road humps could be dug up. The estimated 500 000 asphalt, brick and plastic mounds on UK roads have attracted an intriguing array of enemies. Novelist Ms.Beryl Bainbridge, broadcaster Ms.Joan Bakewell and polymath Mr.Jonathan Miller have joined forces to oppose traffic calming in their posh north London neighbourhood.

‘I hate road humps,’ said Ms.Bakewell in 2003-06.

‘The pleasure is taken out of driving and it’s bad for the car.’

Bus drivers in Sheffield are suing their employer saying repeatedly negotiating speed humps has damaged their lower spines. And undertakers in Liverpool forced the city council into lowering its speed bumps because hearses and stretched limos kept becoming stranded on the road obstacles.

One urban council, Barnet in London, did not even require such prodding.

‘We will make Barnet a hump-free zone!’

— said Mr.Brian Coleman, the Tory chairman of the environment committee, in 2003-06 as he announced every one of the 1 000 obstacles in his borough would be grubbed up.


In 1999, on urban roads with a 30mph speed limit:

  • 67 per cent of cars speeded and
  • 31 per cent went faster than 35 mph
  • 38 per cent of motorcycles exceeded the limit by more than 5 mph
  • 45 per cent of lorries broke the 30 mph limit,
  • 13 per cent travelled at 35 mph

Source: DETR

Even ambulance services have expressed concern about the effect of speed humps on their emergency response times — with hundreds of patients estimated to be dying because of delays.

New Labour MP Mr.John Mann called the spread of road humps ‘a plague’ after one of his constituents was driven by ambulance over 17 of the bumps after breaking her back.

Last year, 2002, the Nottinghamshire MP asked 1 836 households in a village which boasts 125 sets of humps, what they thought.

‘Of those, 97.7 per cent were in favour of the removal of the road humps and 1.8 per cent were against.

‘Such majorities are unheard of these days, even in North Korea or Cuba.’

So was the speed hump just a blip in British motoring history? ‘The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents'(‘RoSPA’) certainly hopes we have not seen the back of the hump.

‘We would be very concerned at any measures to the detriment of road safety.

‘Speed bumps have been shown to reduce accidents and if they do any damage to a vehicle or the occupants it is because they were travelling too quickly in the first place,’ says ‘RoSPAs’ Mr.Roger Vincent.

The many problems of speed humps — noise, vibration, visual intrusion, driver discomfort, cost — have prompted ‘The Department of Transport’ to investigate ‘psychological’ alternatives to physical speed reducing techniques.


  • Hit by a car at 40 mph, 9 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed
  • Hit by a car at 30 mph, about half of pedestrians will be killed
  • Hit by a car at 20 mph, 9 out of 10 pedestrians will survive

Source: ‘RoSPA’

Ms.Janet Kennedy of ‘The Transport Research Laboratory’ says such things as curves, humpback bridges, cameras, road signs and paint markings can prompt motorists to reduce their speed.

‘These work well when a number of them are acting together, however, the effect is still not as great as speed bumps — which are the only thing proved to slow down vehicles.’

While Ken and Kathleen Jones are hoping a petition will allow peace and quiet to return to their street, others have taken more direct action.


  • Total casualties: 38 784
  • Deaths: 775 (down 6 per cent on 2001)
  • Serious injuries: 7 856 (down 5 per cent on 2001)

Source: Dept for Transport

In 2002-11, Oxford builder Mr.Ian ‘Digger’ Beesley was charged with ‘deliberately causing damage to a road surface costing 300 GBP’ after he allegedly used his JCB to remove a noisy speed hump outside his home. Mr.Beesley says that since the charges he has received more than 200 letters of support from opponents of speed humps.

He has also sold more than 150 T-shirts intended to help pay his legal fees. The logo on the T-shirts?

‘We Haven’t Got The Hump — Digger’s Dug It Up.’

‘ Like it or lump it: Is the speed hump here to stay?’, BBC News Online, Ryan Dilley, 2003/07/22 09:55:05 GMT



1. Traffic Calming « Getting Worse - 2007-04-26

[…] This traffic calming scheme provided for speed humps. The Scottish Executive states “Road humps are the most effective traffic calming measure available for reducing speed. “ yet they cannot be used for roads where the speed limit is over 30mph anyway — and each one costs approximately £10000.00! Humps are unpopular with motorists because they damage the car and cause distress to the ill and injured, elderly and pregnant passengers and driver. (see Clipped News Article -Speed Hump Hate). […]

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