The recent report of the Select Committee on Motor Traffic dealt only with the County Council areas of the metropolis. Has not the time come for greater powers to be given to the county councils and highway committees who regulate the motor traffic of all descriptions in the provinces?
As matters are now, so long as the speed limit of 20 miles an hour is not exceeded, there appears to be no power in the hands either of the highway authorities or the police to deal with a new nuisance, the monopolizing of our highways at the will of clubs and combinations either of motorists or motor-cyclists, who suddenly determine on reliability trials in the name of either pastime or science.
Here, for example, in the heart of the Lake District—at a time of year when it is fullest of holiday-makers, who have come for rest and recreation—under the auspices of the A.C.U., 124 miles of road were monopolized for an hour and a half at every point by a stream of motor cycles to the number of 200, 162 of which had entered the lists for a reliability trial, and the whole of that stretch of main roads was filled with dust and din and the possibility of danger to life. This is but one day out of six in which this lamentable procession is to occupy our main roads, and at the end of the 783 miles some one is to gain a gold medal for good nerve and judgment in riding, and some manufacturer is to gain advertisement for the reliability of his machine.
Why should it be possible for a single club thus to monopolize for pastime or for science 783 miles of public road, and issue through its correspondent suggestions that children should be kept in gardens and yards as they pass, and that people should shut all windows to keep out dust?
Is it not time that powers were given to highway authorities so to regulate this kind of traffic that certain roads only shall be chosen, and certain hours of the day only be used for these reliability trials? What is to prevent 1,000 instead of 200 of these machines thundering along at a minute’s interval through the heart of a holiday district like our own to the disquiet of the whole neighbourhood, and why if these cycles so use the roads should not the manufacturers of traction engines go in for reliability tests of hill climbing in the same manner? What we really need is some power to highway authorities to deal with this new phase of motor traffic.
(Times, 21 August 1913, p. 8)