15 Dec 2016

15th December 2016 Mind the chickens!


Thursday 15th 32-34F, 0C, very very dark. (.25 and it is just getting light. 100 yard mist with trees and buildings featureless silhouettes at that distance. A week before the shortest day and it shows. A 'raw' walk up to the drab woods in a cold wind, under heavy grey skies with icy hoar frost covering everything. The field tracks were as sticky as usual. So I kept to the gravel or grassy tracks and came back along the marsh. My cheapo fleece gloves were hopeless in these conditions. I managed to disturb several buzzards, lots of ducks, a flock of Yellowhammers and two very large Herons. 

Tiny Denmark killed 178 people on the roads last year for a death rate of four per 100,000. Gravely Blighted had a rate of three deaths per 100,000 living skittles. The Danish plan now is to share and coordinate police information as to the cause of accidents so that local councils might improve the road situation. Presumably there is presently little data being shared between police forces and councils responsible for the roads. How the council can cater for young fools or drunken drivers is not mentioned. It seems Jylland [Jutland] has unique problems with both categories of driver with an over-representation of road deaths.

Both countries, Denmark and Britain, lie near the bottom of the list of road deaths per nation. Gravely Blighted has countless "speed" cameras. While Denmark has only a few speed camera vans and only a few fixed cameras. Though the Danish news suggests that they do have registration plate recognition cameras for security purposes which are 'harvesting' lots of illegal drivers and vehicles.

While checking my facts online I discovered there is a 2000DKK fine [£200] for crossing double white line markings. If they caught and fined every driver who broke that rule, on our road alone, they could repay America's national debt. It is completely the norm to cross the double white lines on every single corner. Never the exception. Speeding is also the norm wherever I go. If I drive at the speed limit I am constantly overtaken whether on the motorway, in the countryside or in the towns or villages.  If the road is straight and nobody is overtaking, in the opposite direction, then it's a green light to overtake.

When I first came to Denmark, 20 years ago, I had done my homework in advance about the legal speed limits. The problem was that I was always the slowest driver on the road despite sticking rigidly to the limit when it was safe to do so. I might as well have been driving a hearse. Except that in Denmark even the hearses speed too. As do the buses, the lorries, the cars, driving instructors, bin lorries, tractors and anything else with wheels and an engine.

Denmark has fixed, electronic speed indicator boards at the entrances to many villages and towns. Despite often reading 5-7kph low they constantly flash to indicate a speeding vehicle. As I have often said here before, the flash usually occurs after the vehicle has already passed. There are no flashing lights on the back of the signs. So there is no constant reinforcement of the desired message that the law has just been broken. Speed is a huge factor in road casualties and injuries. Yet these boards are treated with complete indifference and their very poor speed calibration unaltered in the 20 years I have been passing them.

The nearest one often reads 7-8kph slow. It did when I arrived 2 decades ago and still shows 42-43kph as I pass it at dead on 50kph on the speedometers of all the old cars I have owned since then. What this means is that I am repeatedly being told [by the represented authorities] that I may safely increase my speed by up to 8kph and still stay within the legal speed limit. Which is plainly a total nonsense an the complete opposite of the speed indicator board's true intention. The board was put there by the local authorities and maintained by them. They represent the law.

It's no wonder, at all, that the Danes treat these speed indicator boards as just more street furniture. Most Danes probably just pay the fixed range of speeding fines when a letter from the police arrives in the post. If they took the case to court it might cost them an awful lot more. However, if like me, you lived near a board which constantly reads 7-8kph slow. Then it ought to be a form of defense if you were caught speeding at 58kph in the village defended by this LUDICROUSLY inaccurate speed indicator. It's absolutely no wonder that almost every vehicle speeds up immediately after passing this sign! How completely crackers is that?

There are no recording cameras in these Danish indicator boards so the driver passes without giving it any thought. Only when a nose-to-tail convoy is passing will the car behind "enjoy" the flash for the car in front. I hear the FBI routinely uses Denmark to practice their close convoy driving. Such driving behaviour would pass completely unnoticed in Denmark. Miles of double white lines, no chance in hell of overtaking, but you still can't get a fag paper between bonnet and boot.

That said, and despite my occasional [?] complaints, most drivers in Denmark respect cyclists. As they are required to do so by law. Cyclists and pedestrian have the right of way in Denmark. At road junctions a pedestrian or cyclist may safely cross while the driver in the minor road waits patiently. Most Danes would be dead in a week if they tried that in Gravely Blighted! Where the pedestrian and cyclist are so far down the driver's rigid hierarchical list of unimportance that it would be a plausible cause for road rage! Grrr!

Imagine a cyclist or "ped" having the temerity to try cycling across the front of their car at a minor road junction or car park entrance/exit?!!? There is no greater affront to a UK driver's dignity! Cyclists and pedestrians have always been the black underclass in the UK. Imagine not having the fortune telling skills to be out of the British driver's way when they are cutting across the cyclist/pedestrian's path into a minor road or exit.

Parking on hatched boxes at traffic lights is rarely seen over here. Yet very late turning on red traffic lights is completely the norm in Danish cities. Meanwhile, RLJs, before the lights even turn green, are not so "popular."

According to the many YouTube cycle/motorcycle camera vloggers the standard of driving in GB is far worse than it was half a century ago. I would always arrive at work [or back home] in a subdued rage after my cycling commutes. A "road safety" vlogger in a Danish city would probably need thousands of hours of recording before capturing the type of perfectly "normal" [and illegal] misbehaviour so typical in the UK.

The majority of Danes are just appear far more sophisticated, intelligent, skilled, patient and calm behind the wheel compared with the chaotic and often illegal anarchy of everyday British roads. Hearing a horn blast in Denmark is also very unusual and likely caused only by very poor driving behavior indeed. Probably requiring drooling idiocy levels of behavior to warrant the 'idiot's' attention even being drawn to it at all. Rest day, busy doing other things than tricycling.


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