Aaranovitch on traffic wardens

David Aaranovitch writes an excellent piece on traffic wardens and calming measures:

Ask almost any conscientious school governor or PTA activist. You can send out a zillion letters, put up a gallery of posters, invite endless consultation — and no one but the same half-dozen parents will respond. Then, as in the case of the school-run permits, suddenly it affects them. Wardens are moving them on as they attempt to triple park in a narrow road. Bang! Why didn’t you tell us? It’s a disgrace! Boom! There’s a campaign group and the local paper moans about a dearth of discussion.

Perhaps indignant passivity is a product of representative democracy, in which the citizen almost expects to be protected from her own prejudices by the enlightened representative. Under this system we are free to dissociate ourselves from the results.

I wonder whether this doesn’t infantilise us all. Perhaps we should be forced to live more directly with the consequences of our own decision-making, through much greater use of local plebiscites or the setting-up of citizens’ juries, who can hear all the facts and then decide on the complicated question of, say, whether the discomfort of motorists is more important than the lives of children.

It does irritate me when drivers complain. You’re in a car capable of killing anybody in an instant. The onus is not on other people to accommodate you.

Does the same apply to speed cameras? I think it’s extremely likely. I’m trying to educate myself on road safety so that the next time somebody explains how they’re justified in speeding in a 30mph zone I can properly nuke them from orbit.