Firstly, a disclaimer: I don’t live in Humberside. Now that’s neither for nor against the place, simply a statement of elsewhereness. But hold that thought while I digress. I’m also a considerable fan of road safety, having desire to neither kill nor be killed on the public roads. But – and this is a big one – I’m like most of us, in that the more threatening and authoritarian the message, the more likely I am to start taking the piss. That’s not big and not clever, but is pretty basic psychology — engage with me and I’ll listen, behave like a fascist and I’ll start fomenting revolution.
Where I now live, things seem to be generally sensible: no fixed cameras, strong enforcement of urban limits and a high days-and-holidays police presence at biker gathering spots like the Green Welly, where they’re promoting Bikesafe courses and wandering around mumbling slightly abashed comments like, “Take care out there lads…”. Several plain clothes plodmobiles (cars and bikes) tend to be out and about at similar times, but I’ve seen relatively little bad behaviour or general numptiness by the local Police.
Go for a long ride though and, as you pass from force to force, you’ll see a wide variety of approaches: from the engagement-driven attitude of places like Durham and North Yorkshire (both of which have amongst the best safety trends in the country) to the outright hostility and bullying control freak mentality of places like North Wales and Northamptonshire. When I ride into the latter County, with its huge “You ARE Being Watched” signs everywhere, I am seized with a near uncontrollable desire to behave in a manner outrageous, illegal and undignified (not necessarily in that order). On the same ride, I’ll then cross into Buckinghamshire and find signs along the nicer roads that tell me what the accident rate for that road is for a given period. Thanks, you’ve treated me like an adult, given me information and I’ll act on it. All is then peace and light.