Sarah Todd: Why I’m ready to volunteer to go gunning for speeding motorists

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“SPRING must be in the air,” a neighbour commented as we cycled to school for the first time this year.

It felt great, although my young companions were rude about the old fold-up bike with the basket on the front.

“Can’t you leave it behind that wall?” urged The Daughter. “Or why not wait down the road?” chirped up her brother.

In spite of their teasing (“This bike’s a classic,” they’re told) it’s so much easier to leave the car at home. The hassle of driving to the school gates leaves me feeling like a stiff drink on a morning rather than a cup of tea.

Of course, cycling has its hazards. The children still laugh about the time their mother did a Harvey Smith-style gesture at one speeding motorist – and fell off into the hedge bottom.

A sensible suggestion that communities should be able to set their own speed limits has come from Lady Newlove.

She is the campaigning widow of father-of-three Garry Newlove who was beaten to death by a gang of drunken yobs in 2007.

Now appointed as the Government’s communities champion, she also urges that locals be given cameras to police their restricted speed zones. She highlighted Cambridgeshire, Devon and Cornwall where volunteers have been given speed guns and pass the evidence on to the police.

Gosh, that would be great fun. There are people going by our lane end at upwards of 70mph, and what joy it would be to hide behind the hedge and zap them with a speed gun.

It does seem sensible for the residents to set their own speed limits. They know where the rat-runs are and where children are likely to be playing out.

Regular readers know of my allergy to Countryfile and its presenters, but credit where it’s due. Kate Humble has said that children should get outside more, and her comments seem to have got people talking.

It’s interesting to wonder whether, with her programme going primetime and the abundance of others such as Edwardian Farm, we’re breeding a generation who like watching programmes about the countryside but not actually getting out into it – a bit like the cookery programmes with armchair foodies watching people in the kitchen but not actually getting an apron on themselves.

There was a tale this week about primary school children having to wear yellow builders’ hats when making wigwams out of twigs. Echoing this is the Countryside Alliance, which has found that one of the principal obstacles to prevent schools from visiting the countryside is a fear of being sued.

If only Lady Newlove was on the case …