22 July 2010
Crash-avoiding car crashes

Regular viewers of Top Gear will already have seen this but it’s still hilarious.

09 July 2010
What’s wrong with this graph?

This came to me in an email from the Tax Payers’ Alliance referencing this report (the graphic is on page 11).

I do hate it when ideological friends make such elementary errors.

Mind you, it does beg the question: what would I do?  Of course, in Patrick Crozier’s nirvana all roads would be privately owned and whatever rules there were would be up to the owners of those roads.  But what would those rules be likely to be?  I have this awful feeling that they wouldn’t be all that different.  If I owned a road I would like it to be fast - happier customers - but what I would really like it to be is safe - more crashes, less use, lower revenue.

29 December 2009
The benefits of winter tyres

There’s a motoring forum I like to read and over the past week or so lots of the participants have been singing the praises of winter tyres.  I must admit I’d never heard of such things until last week’s snows but it seems they really do do the business.

Here’s an unimpartial video:

Biggish difference and given the Met Office’s forecast of a mild winter likely to be matched with precisely the sort of conditions they were designed for.  The only obstacles are the cost and finding somewhere to store the summer tyres.

01 March 2006
Parking spaces more expensive than the cars parked in them - golly …link
17 July 2005
Do car seats save lives?

Maybe not (registration required).  Hat-tip Marginal Revolution

13 June 2005
Germans make the best drivers - because they have few rules. They make the best beer because they have lots of them …link
10 June 2005
Markets in roads?

Jackie asks:

Is there anywhere where the government has created an internal market in traffic? By that I mean allocating (or selling) people credits (based on mileage, I guess) and then letting them buy, sell, and trade them amongst one another? So if someone like me, who doesn’t own a car, is allocated X mileage per year, I can flog it to someone else in my local area on an eBay-like bidding system (online and by phone).

Er, no.  The nearest thing is Singapore where electronic charging applies to the central business district and some main roads and where rates vary by time of day and type of vehicle.

06 June 2005
How to make it so there are no more jams ever again

The government’s announcement that it is thinking of introducing satellite-based road charging, oh, sometime in the next decade or so (how often have we heard that announcement?) has certainly stirred things up in the blogosphere.  Both Andy Wood and the ASI have pointed out the dangers inherent in the state having so much information at its disposal.  Snafu rejects the idea entirely and thinks we should all get used to jams.  VOTF thinks that fuel tax is all you need.

I think jams are bad and charging the cure.  One way of achieving this is to wait in the hope that the state, which owns the road gets its act together.  Another is privatisation.  We already have one private road in this country: the M6 Toll.  It charges and traffic flows freely.  And you don’t have to have your details recorded by the state.

Our main routes, the motorways and A-roads could probably be privatised very quickly.  While some might find that they are priced off the road others might well find that new bus and coach services price them right back on and others might well find that employers are willing for them to change their working hours so that they can get in when rates are lower.

However, this is dealing with a situation where there is a finite quantity of main routes.  Why should that be?  Whoever owns the M25 is likely to make a bomb.  But why shouldn’t they suffer a little competition?  Of course, if we were to allow people to build new roads we would have to relax the planning laws.

That’s the main routes.  Urban routes, alas, are a different matter.  Try as I might I have never been able to imagine how you could privatise urban roads without recreating something very similar to the state which is precisely what I am trying to avoid.

Urban areas are built with the right level of road space for their time.  I bet riding down Fleet Street was a pleasure in the 17th Century.  Unfortunately, no one predicted the rise of car ownership.  One answer to this is congestion charging.  We are trying this in London but is far from clear whether traffic speeds are picking up.

The other alternative is, if the old urban areas are found wanting, to build new ones.  This is the big idea of South California academic, Peter Gordon.  As he points out: people like sprawl (to use the pejorative term).  They like it domestically and, as jobs move out of city centres, they like it economically.  And because they are new developments they tend to have the right amount of road space.  Only today he points out that the cities that have grown the fastest in recent years tend to be those with relatively insignificant centres. 

But if we were to do it in Britain we would, once again, have to relax the planning laws.

15 April 2005

Wise words on speed cameras:

Contrary to the slogans, speed does not kill…What kills is bad driving

Mark Ellott

14 April 2005
London’s ‘zero emission’ buses - aren't. Water vapour, see, is a greenhouse gas …link
07 March 2005
Michael Jennings has been to Millau

He says:

The Millau viaduct is simply mindblowing. You may know in advance how big and how high it is in terms of numbers, but when you see it it really blows you away. I have seen a lot of great works of engineering, but I cannot remember the last time I saw one that was simply as awe inspiring as this one.

Now, Michael is a guy who knows his transportational stuff and not one prone to hyperbole, so when he says something is mindblowing - it is.

07 February 2005
There you are, all set to wreck a Gatso - and then someone beats you to it. Where's the justice in that? …link
02 February 2005
Environmentalism kills - or what happens when you stuff up the roads …link
03 January 2005

Schools, hospitals, clean water, policing, courts without the state.  Impossible?  Not only is it possible but it’s happened and not that long ago either.  Jay Jardine reviews the Voluntary City.

27 December 2004

Eamonn Butler condemns the removal of tolls on the Skye Bridge.

20 December 2004

Sean Gabb on why drinking and driving should not be a crime.  It’s something of a hardy annual for him.  His basic points are that accidents caused by D&D can easily be dealt with by the existing laws on manslaughter and murder and that "prior restraint" laws have subtle, unintended consequences.