14th December 2007
Anti-speed-camera campaigner Paul Smith died last night aged 52.
The founder of the website SafeSpeed is believed to have suffered a stroke or heart attack at his home in Fife, Scotland. He had suffered two earlier heart attacks including one this summer.
Smith's work exposing failures of speed cameras had made him a respected and credible authority quoted frequently in national press. Claire Armstrong, his partner of 22 years, said she planned to take over the running of the website.
She said he was talking on the phone when he "suddenly took some deeps breaths and stopped responding … either he had a stroke or a vital artery became blocked."
As John Josephs writes, "His knowledge of and commitment to road safety was second to none. He was always able to support his strongly held views with rational arguments. Even his opponents respected him even if they didn't agree with his views. He will be a great loss to road safety", while motorcyclist "Kawasakibiker" says "Drivers and riders need a voice, and Paul was that voice".
(Our thanks to Motorcycle News for the above).
Many of us have known for a long time Paul Smith's excellent and tireless work towards a sane and common-sense approach to road safety. He was a superb advocate for motorists and motorcyclists (and let's face it, that's almost all of us) against the self-serving so-called "experts" of the Road Safety Industry and the blinkered loonies of those campaign groups that would rejoice to see us all walking the streets wearing clogs.
Of course his views aroused strong emotions in many people - just take a look at the SafeSpeed discussion page on Wikipedia, which appears to have been taken over by rug-chewing cyclists with too much time on their hands. But a perusal of the SafeSpeed website will reveal that he really did express the opinions and beliefs of the majority of British road-users. He will be much missed.
The GOS says: Silly haircut, though.
Still, when one door closes, another one opens. Reported in the Times today that French police are hunting a "guerrilla" organisation that is blowing up speed cameras and demanding a ransom from the State. They are taking seriously claims from the Nationalist Revolutionary Army Faction (FNAR) that it is responsible for the destruction of six radar installations on roads in the Paris region over the past six months.
The latest attempted attack was on Tuesday on a motorway close to the village of Baillet-en-France, 20 miles north of the capital. The device, consisting of a bundle of explosive and a timer, did not detonate. It was spotted by a road maintenance team and defused after police closed the motorway for five hours.
The FNAR, which also calls itself the National Anti-Radar Front, is reported to be demanding a significant sum of money to halt the attacks, as well as tax cuts and less rigorous enforcement of the law on the roads.
The group sent its demands to the Interior Ministry in October. Worded in the grandiose jargon of 1970s revolutionary groups, it complained about the oppression of "the owner State which robs its citizens". The police said they did not know if they were dealing with one person or a group, "but either way, this is dangerous stuff".
Dozens of France's 1,100 roadside speed cameras have been destroyed or vandalised since they were introduced in 2003 - later than in most neighbouring countries. Many believe they were created to fill the state coffers with tens of millions of euros in fines a year.
Meanwhile the speed camera less than a mile from Chez Grumpy which was burned out six weeks ago has still not been replaced. If they were seriously concerned with preventing road accidents, you'd have thought they might have acted a little quicker, wouldn't you?
Mind you, in those six weeks there's been a significant absence of any incidents whatever. I rest my case.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2007 The GOS
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