Keep Discovering

The Press-News column. May 20

Cameras the best way to tackle Red-light runners.

For the past month I’ve been busy self-driving my way across Europe on a work trip – and I must apologise to the Italians. I had a pre-conception that their driving attitude would mirror the way they talk. Fast, fevered and frenetic. They certainly drive assertively, but they are consistently courteous.  Now in Britain, I’m in awe of that flash of amber before the traffic light turns green. What an ingenious way to get the next phase of traffic moving swiftly, while also serving as a thumping deterrent to red-light runners. Admittedly, my sense of loathing towards red light runners borders on the pathological. They are the lowest life form of narcissists. Cast your eye across the recently released list of Christchurch’s worst ten intersections for fatalities and injuries, and you can bet your bottom dollar that red-light running is the common denominator. Lately, when I’m turning right at an intersection, I take matters into my hands. If I detect a feckless runner, intent on barrelling straight-through the intersection, even though the light has long gone amber, I turn into their path, only to stop suddenly to avoid a collision. It gives the runner a hell of a shock. I’m sure the police wouldn’t encourage my summary justice driving style, but one a runner a time, I’m pricking their conscience. The Automobile Association has been agitating the government to roll-out an arsenal of next generation red light cameras, which have proven highly proficient at combating red-light runners in Australia. The plan is to install these cutting-edge cameras at notorious intersections, and the revenue from the $150 fine would be split, 50-50, between local and central government. For cash-strapped councils, like Christchurch, the cameras could make a financial killing. But of course, the central aim is to reassert some semblance of sanity to our intersections. The government has been faffing about determining when to install the cutting-edge fleet of mobile cameras. It appears they won’t be on our streets until after the election, to avoid any political blowback.  But they can’t come soon enough.

A spent force.

Chelsea, the world’s greatest flower show, and inspiration behind Ellerslie, unfurls in London today. It’s hard to see how the council can recommit to persisting with Ellerslie, after this year’s thumping loss.  Enduring brands of excellence are best built from the ground up, not expediently bought up, with glaring geographical anomalies. Christchurch, the Garden City, deserves a signature flower show. Privately run and staged in spring, please. The council coffers should have no business in show business.

Mike Yardley’s weekly current affairs column in The Press, as published on May 20.

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