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Speed Limiters Or How To Lose Friends

The plan it seems is that from 2022 all new vehicles will be fitted with speed limiters. Somehow, someway the vehicle will "know" what the speed limit is for the stretch of road the vehicle is on and restrict the motor to that speed. The press is talking of cars and trucks, I'm unsure but I would be very surprised indeed if this did not apply to motorcycles too.

A standard 30mph speed limit sign
You may have no choice but to obey the posted limit soon.

If, more likely when, this comes to pass it will upset a LOT of people. Why? Because we've been spoilt. Oh yeah, sure we have speed limits now but they are not rigidly enforced. Not because authorities don't care and don't want to but because it would be impossible to have an officer on every corner of every road making sure motorists keep to the prescribed limit.

So we have been able to ride and drive as fast as we please save for the slim chance that Officer Plod may just be hiding around the next bend with a speed gun and a fistful of tickets. 

Then along comes technology. First the GATSO speed cameras. Oh we hate them don't we! Sneaky little bright yellow boxes interfering with our god-given right to ride or drive as fast as we see fit. After all we are all the best motorist out there, we all know what we're doing, we're all totally safe, speed doesn't kill people - bad driving does. Apparently. Anyhow they're not there to improve road safety, they're a stealth tax on motorists doncha know. Apparently.

Now we have average speed cameras, smart(ish) motorways and more speed bumps than the suspension of any 4x4 can handle. All of these things are again just there to upset, annoy and anger road users and have no bearing at all on public safety. Apparently.

Technology is such now that limiting the speed of a modern vehicle to that set for a particular stretch of road is possible. I am trying to understand how I feel about this new technology. My first question is what are public roads for?

Primarily and mostly for transport. Roads are there to allow the public to move from point A to point B. The fact that a number of public road users such as I derive pleasure in the act of moving from point A to point B is secondary to the actual purpose of the public road system. The government do not build roads for my pleasure, they are a public utility.

A fabulous corner in the Picos De Europa
These public utilities can be a lot of fun I must admit.

We expect our public transport to be safe, we expect our public buildings to be safe, we expect our schools and playgrounds to be safe, we expect the tarmac of the road we're on to be safe. We demand the food we eat is safe, the water we drink be safe, the chairs we sit on are safe, the homes we live in are safe, babies prams are safe.

We'd sue the hell out of Honda if the motorcycle we purchased was unsafe.   

Yet we spit out our collective dummies if we dare to change or challenge anything that helps keep public road users safe - from other public road users. "Nanny state!", "Safety Nazis!" and so on. 

There are practical arguments against this potential new technology.

What if you wish to overtake? The vehicle in front is travelling at 45 in a 50 zone. It is safe and clear to overtake. You accelerate to 50 mph and then your vehicle stops accelerating. You draw alongside the other vehicle and they accelerate to 50 just because, well, just because. You're now left hanging out to dry with only the option of pulling back in behind. 

You're mid corner on a motorcycle. You're powering through the bend as taught by the advanced motorcycle types. Part way through the bend the bike simply stops accelerating which upsets your balance, taking you off the clean dry safe line into a patch of wet gravel.

I'm sure readers will also have plenty of potential examples as to when this new-fangled technology will be a problem. There will be creases to iron out, new ways of riding and driving to be learned and adopted and the system will NOT be perfect. However it does not need to be perfect, it only needs to be better than the current system. 

I'm sure you can see which way I lean on this subject. 

Will this spoil motorcycling? It surely will for some. What will the point of posing with your ZZCBYZGSX 1000 RRrr? It can only achieve the exact same speed as that "little" 250. It'll take the edge off the thrill of hurtling through the rugged Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia. It must surely change the culture of motorcycling, we have for years enjoyed being pretty much the fastest thing on the roads. 

Ducati Superleggera at a motorcycle show
Very pretty I'm sure, but it'll only be as fast as Sharon's 250.

Will it spoil motorcycling for me? Nah. Save for the occasional weak moments and genuine mistakes I've been keeping approximately to the limits for years and years. Actually my biggest legal fear when riding is making a genuine mistake regarding the speed limit and getting a ticket. This new tech will be a boon in that regard. My enjoyment on two wheels will be unaffected.

Indeed I have positive hopes. I hope the lunatic throttle wide open all the time sector will diminish. I hope to see mid to large capacity bikes built with economy and longevity in mind rather than out and out top speeds. I hope to see smaller capacity machines become popular as they'll be as fast as big bikes save for the acceleration. 

Our road safety record in the UK is good... compared to other countries (stats here)  But out there this year there's about 1,700 families for whom these statistics means nothing. There's over 20,000 seriously injured people for whom being a "good" statistic won't stop the pain or get them back to work. If this number of injuries and deaths were caused on trains, in schools, at work, or down the pub we'd be up in arms.

I don't for one minute believe that limiting speeds will prevent nearly all road deaths and injuries, not at all. But a 5% reduction would be nice, 10% would be good, and 50% would be excellent. I have no idea how much difference it will make, but I do believe it will be a positive difference. 

We as bikers, motorcyclists, riders, enthusiasts, we will either decide all the fun has gone out of motorcycling and find another fun thing to do, or learn to enjoy the sheer pleasure of being on two wheels at the posted speed limit. 


You're allowed to disagree with Ren in the comments but rude or offensive posts will be removed.

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
Interesting to see a positive view on this. I once got severely flamed for suggesting that speed cameras might be a good thing (on a safety-oriented forum of course). My argument was:

1. Do we agree that speed limits are a necessary evil?
2. If yes, do we think they should be enforced?
3. If yes, then surely cameras are a more effective method than the occasional traffic cop.

The same logic applies to the speed limiters - even though I personally don't want them. However, two things give me comfort. One is that it would be tricky to retrofit them to my antiques. Second, that by the time they become universal I may well be past bothering.....

Oh, and by the way, the proposal (which is all it is at the moment) would allow for temporarily exceeding the limit but I expect this would be recorded.....
29/3/2019 2:44:13 PM UTC
John Scotcher said :-
It will end up with the same situation as when lorries overtake each other where you can sometimes follow them for miles on dual carriageways till they finish overtaking.
29/3/2019 3:14:52 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
You're right there John, because my limiter will be set to 60.2 mph and yours will be set to 60.1 mph. Thus I'll pass you at 0.1 mph. It could take some time!

Emotionally I don't want them. Thinking logically though I can see the point. Thing is on forums and discussions we often let our emotions rule the roost and find, seek out, search for reasons to justify those emotions. No-one wants busy bodies, big brother, the authorities or the government to interfere with our lives. That is until we're robbed or attacked or run down by a hooligan.
29/3/2019 4:16:24 PM UTC
Jim said :-
Like so many of our laws, this is likely to mainly affect the law-abiding. Don't get me wrong, I always try to stick to the speed limits but have to confess I've had two tickets (in nearly a million miles of motoring). But as long as the system can be over-ridden, it will be. I bet you can already find people selling work-rounds and fixes on eBay (this for a system that doesn't exist yet). My other concern is that if this is going to work by GPS, then we're now going to be tracked everywhere we go. Won't be long before someone works out a way to tax us more for slight speed infringements.

I'm now off to put the finishing touches to my foil helmet...
29/3/2019 4:45:54 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
While I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I am aware that the notion of tracking the entire motoring population could be a "thing". Of course if you have a mobile phone with you I'm afraid that horse has already bolted the stable.

And yes, quite. No matter how complex and integrated the system there are more than enough highly skilled engineers out there who'll soon reverse engineer any system and be offering workarounds within the week. What will be different though is how much these "unrestricted" vehicles will stand out and while every other vehicle around them is fixed firmly to the limit they'll struggle to make serious progress.

There has been mention of "black boxes" too akin to aircraft. These will only internally record your motoring parameters and then only be accessed in the event of an accident. I suspect the idea would be to help apportion blame.

After you with the tin foil Jim, I'm lining the inner of my bike lid.
29/3/2019 5:36:12 PM UTC
Rod said :-
We expect our public transport to be safe, we expect our public buildings to be safe, we expect our schools and playgrounds to be safe, we expect the tarmac of the road we're on to be safe. We demand the food we eat is safe, the water we drink be safe, the chairs we sit on are safe, the homes we live in are safe, babies prams are safe.

We'd sue the hell out of Honda if the motorcycle we purchased was unsafe.


The safest motorcycle is the one left in its shed!

My thin end of the wedge theory dictates that the next step is to restrict motorcycles to lower speeds than cars as they are much more dangerous, and then to ban them altogether because they are so unsafe.

This follows the same logic as speed limiter.

Would this spoil motorcycling for Ren??
29/3/2019 5:50:08 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Oooofff! It's a grim picture Rod. It's also one I see forthcoming within the not toooooo distant future. With the advent and likely ultimate ubiquity of self driving cars the notion of owning a vehicle that you physically control yourself will become a thing of the past. Such vehicles will be confined to dedicated enthusiasts much like traction engines are today.

There may well be 2 wheeled self driving vehicles and to some degree or another they may possibly be entertaining. However the simple pleasure of riding and controlling a bike will have gone.

We may be at the stage in history horse riders were at in the early 1900s. At the stage steam engines were in the 60s. Our children's children will see great changes. They may watch "old school" 2 dimensional films and gawk in awe at how we used to propel ourselves at great velocity on machines with 17 litres of high explosive between our thighs. They'll be stunned about how we used things like traffic lights and roundabouts, desperately hoping that everyone obeyed the rules otherwise the outcome could be awful.

I've said it on here before. Times they are a-changing, it is possible I may see the end of motorcycles that I can control myself being used on public roads. It's possible if I'm spared that in my dotage I'll have to transport my vintage velocipede in my autonomous truck to events and gatherings with short stretches of private tarmac where I can "give the old girl a run". Much like steam enthusiast of today gather together to run private railways like The Talylln and East Lancs railways.
29/3/2019 7:01:48 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
One things for certain friends, there is only one constant, change.
What will some unpaid EU bureaucrat decide next, who knows, all we can do is enjoy today, just ask PP on that one.
I suppose we could always hold a referendum so we can decide our own future.......
Upt'North.
29/3/2019 11:21:46 PM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Safest motorcycle is one left in the shed.

Sad but true. In my case.

I might start a mechanics course to fix bikes as I wont be able to ride one.
30/3/2019 4:40:40 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
What's the prognosis Pocketpete?
30/3/2019 4:54:02 PM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Well it changes. But so far it's one leg shorter than the other so slight limp.
Metal work to go in. At least 3 ops planned. Although the specialist says he may do knee and ankle in one go.

Will struggle to climb hills or stairs. Or stand for long periods. No gym or cycling. Unable to drive a motorbike as i cant press the brake. Will struggle to drive as my foot will not move downwards so an automatic might work or might need modifying.

One surgeon used the term 'life changing injuries' but I think they say these things so that when a year later I'm almost back to normal they can be like NHS gods. Oh look at my skill I did a fantastic job.

You never know lol. Lap of gods i think but the doctors and nurses are pretty damn good.
30/3/2019 6:28:31 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
I've looked into my crystal balls Pete and can see a scooter in your future. And no gym and cycling, I hope you've said thank you to those Dr's.
Thinking about you Pete.
Upt'North.
30/3/2019 8:54:31 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I don't think crystal balls are involved Upt'North. I suspect Pocketpete's wife will have PP's balls before he's back on two wheels. In reality I'm sure it's a lot more complicated than that.

I know a chap, a veritable man mountain, stronger than an Ox and as fit as a fiddle. He recently suffered a stroke that weakened an artery in his neck. Doctors have advised that while wearing a helmet the strap could damage the weakened artery, fatally so. It is most odd to know this seemingly indestructible giant has made personal choice to ride no more but I understand why, I'd do the same.

As you said, things change. All we can do is enjoy today. So let's ride while we can :-)
31/3/2019 6:04:31 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
This idea will be fun. How and how often often will the database on the vehicle be updated and what happens when you are happily doing 70 and the limiter thinks it's a 40 limit due to last months roadworks and you end up with a 10 year old 40 tonner you have just overtaken up yer jacksie. My GPS updates the safety camera and roadworks lists list every time it is flashed up and it still gets them wrong.
31/3/2019 6:40:46 PM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Hmm scooter sounds interesting. Automatic twist and go might be ok. 650 engine. Getting good vibes down my plaster thinking of that.
1/4/2019 6:17:10 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Honda's NC750 is available in automatic, I've ridden one and it was fab. Now it comes with a "traditional" rear brake but I believe there is an option to have the rear brake handlebar mounted. Don't quote me on that but it is certainly technically possible.

Please don't tell Paula I mentioned that. I don't need another hobbit beating me up.
1/4/2019 7:46:59 AM UTC
Steve said :-
Always interesting reading you posts Ren. I think/hope speeding will eventually become socially unacceptable a bit like drink driving is now. I can remember the sixties when it was common to drink and drive, behavior can be changed hopefully regarding speeding. At 70 years old it's not going to affect me anyway.
I have an NC700, it's manual but have driven a few DCT models and I think it is only a handbrake that is handlebar mounted.
1/4/2019 9:17:59 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Thanks Steve. Yes presently from the shop an auto NC750 has a "hand brake" on the left handlebar because being an auto means it cannot be left in gear if you have to park on a slope.

However if my memory serves the Integra 750 scoot is, underneath, the same as the NC750. And the Integra has a rear brake lever on the left handlebar. As such it wouldn't be too hard to graft the Integra system onto the NC.

I seem to recall Honda might, possibly, maybe supply the bike like this as new. Before anyone reading this gets too excited check with your Honda dealer, I might have dreamt this.
1/4/2019 11:17:48 PM UTC
Spacepig said :-
On a two wheeler actually think it would be dangerous and would destroy motorcycling overnight
4/4/2019 10:50:28 AM UTC
Bob said :-
Not that I want to start an anti EU rant but they've been coming up with this kind of nonsense for years. The Motorcycle Action Group and others have been fighting for our rights.
Has anyone heard of vision zero?
At the heart of the EU transport policy is the desire to reduce road traffic deaths in the EU to zero by 2050 and they have openly stated that powered two wheelers have no place in that picture - they have been trying to get rid of us for decades.
If it happens I will emigrate to a country where I can continue to ride.
5/4/2019 10:42:06 PM UTC
Rod said :-
But Bob, If, If When, no, IF we leave, you will not need to emigrate!
6/4/2019 4:27:06 PM UTC

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