23 Apr 2013

Thank you to the person who flashed their lights to warn me of a speed trap

The police.  Meant to serve and protect the public?  Not when they set up mobile speed cameras in locations that can only serve as revenue raisers rather than protecting the public's interest.

I had a meeting today, one hour from home.  An hour of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire's finest back roads. So I took the bike - a Triumph Street Triple.  It might only pack 675cc but it'll outrun a Porsche 911 Turbo.  Motorcycles are proper, stupidly fast.

I had some fun on the national speed limit sections and slowed down through villages where the speed limit drops to 30mph.  Bikers generally follow this rule.  Focussed as we are on the road, the ride and our safety we are generally law abiding sorts in built up areas.  If the limit is 30 a motorcyclist will usually do 30 - unlike a lot of car drivers.

I was slowing as I prepared to enter a 30mph section.  I knew the gateway signs designating 30mph would be around the next bend - a blind bend - so I slowed appropriately.  This particular 30mph zone starts half a mile before the village.

In the UK many historic 30mph zones are placed not straight after the village's houses end but some distance after that - where the Parish boundary ends.  So it is tempting to enter the 30mph zone at 60mph and slow down as you approach the village and it's buildings.  In this case I didn't.

I was doing about 40mph (in the 60mph limit) when a van came around the corner and the driver flashed his lights at me.  I immediately knew why when I went round the corner and saw a Thames Valley Police mobile speed trap.

I was doing 30mph and didn't get caught.  I would have been doing 30mph anyway but I'm glad that van driver flashed his lights at me.  He risked prosecution (it's illegal to warn oncoming drivers of a speed trap in the UK) by a peevish police force who do not like drivers warning each other of approaching speed traps - because it reduces their revenues in fines.

The police might talk a load of rubbish about mobile camera units saving lives but to place the speed trap within the half mile after the village's last house and the end of the 30mph zone, and before a blind bend, has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with trying to catch unwary drivers (and riders) out and pocketing their money.

The police lose the confidence of the public every time we see them pulling this kind of confidence trick.  Thames Valley Police should be ashamed of themselves.