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Can we afford such a cosseted society?

June 30, 2011
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For the last 15 months or so, I’ve been taking my life in my hands on my daily commute to and from work. My chosen route takes me along a notorious stretch of road in the Hampshire countryside. Judging by what I seen with my own eyes, the warnings are justified. Firstly, if the regular collections of roadside flowers and ‘CRASH’ appeal signs are anything to go by, at least 5 people have lost their lives during the time I have been travelling this route.

Now, granted I don’t know the particular details of each fatality but I have seen how stupidly people can choose to drive and ride along this road. For ‘petrolheads’ and ‘speedfreaks’ it is what you would describe as an excellent ‘recreational’ road, with twisting corners, gradients and long sweeping sections.

Next time I am on a motorbike I am going to make a point of riding this road and I am well aware I will be doing so at my own risk. If I ride dangerously and ‘don’t’ think about what I’m doing I expect to do damage either to myself, the bike, another person or all of these. I expect to have to take responsibility for these actions.

What I don’t expect however is if I should kill myself through stupid actions that the local authorities will spend countless thousands on adding more warning signs, resurfacing the road in pretty colours, writing ‘slow’ on every corner and putting padding around telegraph poles.

This is what the local authority has spent doing this last year, presumably in response to the fatalities, and I am sure it has cost the taxpayer a fair chunk of cash at a time when far more valuable services are facing severe cuts.

Tough times mean tough choices and if we are going to spend a small fortune wrapping our environment in cotton wool (literally in the case of the telegraph pole) each time someone dies, most likely through their own stupidity, then people who are really suffering through no fault of their own and deserving of support, will get more and more neglected.

We need to think about drawing a line more often in scenarios like this and that doesn’t necessarily mean that line should be added to the many already painted across our roads…

And… while I’m on the subject of people taking responsibility for their personal actions, here is an absolute gem from today’s news feeds about the rise of obesity worldwide.

Obesity levels have risen sharply in many Western countries since the 1970s. In the US a third of all adults – more than 72 million people – are now categorised as obese.

hmmm – so how much of this extreme overeating and personal consumption of the world’s resources has contributed to the massive debts the US now faces and could a fair chunk of this budget deficit be offset by the population contributing more to their society than their waistlines?

On a recent return to Florida, I saw even more chronically obese people having to travel around the theme parks on motorised scooters as they were too fat to walk and these are just the ones who can fit through their front doors and are not permanently bed-bound. The overwhelming impression is of the scenes in the animated film Wall-E where human society has become so inactive and addicted to superficial entertainment that they have lost the use of their legs and travel everywhere on robotic loungers with in-built entertainment systems…

hmmm – an emerging opportunity for mobile audio-visual entertainment systems perhaps? ;)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2011 6:42 am

    Can you imagine the millions spent on replacing Armco with solid concrete carriageway separators!

  2. July 21, 2011 6:44 am

    Car obesity also factors into this post: http://johngoode.com/car-obesity

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