Comment 31245

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 23, 2009 at 13:15:40

The double standard regarding enforcement was illustrated perfectly just this week.

Police in Halton were trying to catch speeders by making their cars look less conspicuous (they put a taxi-like light on the roof, which actually said 'police'). The (motoring) public were outraged by the 'unfairness'of this particular enforcement technique.

Apparently, the majority of motorists believe that disobeying the posted speed should normally be allowed! One common objection was that motorists would be forced to drive the legal speed whenever they saw a taxi (presumably this was the entire point of the exercise!).

The response of police was ... to discontinue this particularly effective form of enforcement!

A similar thing happened when they reduced the speed limit on Cootes drive near a very busy pedestrian crossing at McMaster to improve safety for the large numbers of pedestrians who cross there. When police noticed that most motorists ignored the speed limit they ... increased it again (instead of enforcing it!).

However, when it comes to pedestrians and cyclists the general attitude seems to be that their infractions are outrageous and they need to be reigned in.

This response is probably mostly tribal: motorists understand and accept the behaviour of those like them ("of course one rolls through stops, burns amber lights and speeds ..."), but not that of the 'other' ("why do cyclists and pedestrians think they can disobey the rules?").

Since motorists are seen as the 'normal' road users (and are usually in the majority here in Hamilton), the police acquiesce to their notions of what is fair, but clamp down on the others.

As mentioned previously in RTH, this whole attitude to enforcement ignores the fact that it is actually motoring infractions which have the greatest potential to cause harm. A rational enforcement policy would be to "minimize the maximum risk", not "minimize annoyance to motorists".

As Ryan pointed out the best enforcement is to design roads to encourage the desired behaviour ...

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