Taking the hump - speed bumps.
Over the past few years speed bumps have invaded London – they’re everywhere. These humps might be part of traffic calming schemes but it seems they’re leaving drivers anything but calm.
Over the past few years Islington Council has installed more than 1,900 speed bumps to slow down traffic.
But some residents feel they’re too high.
"When something goes over them, because they’re quite, high things bounce and when they bounce, they create noise. So the higher the bump the more noise there is," one local resident told Inside Out.
Inside Out investigates whether people using Islington’s roads really do have a right to be fed up.
Getting the hump
Mini driver Michael Copsey has lived in Islington all his life and until recently he enjoyed living in the area, but an incident on Roman Way has given him the hump.
"Last November I was driving along this road. I had passengers in my car and because I drive a mini with a low exhaust system, when I came to this speed hump, there was a big crash and it damaged part of my exhaust system.
Fasten your seat belts - a bumpy ride?
"It cost me something like £95 to have it repaired. So I thought it’s not really my fault and I made a claim against the council."
He points to the scuff marks on the bump where he says other vehicles have caught the top of this ridge.
Michael received a letter from the council saying it wasn’t responsible for the damage to his car as the speed bump complied with legislation but this wasn’t good enough for Michael.
"I then thought I better make some inquiries myself and that’s when I found there are restrictions and they have to be at a certain height," he says.
Speed bump regulations
The 1999 Highways Regulations state the maximum dimensions of a road hump - they shouldn’t be higher than 10cm.
MP Emily Thornberry receives numerous complaints about the bumps each week so when Michael raised the issue she was determined to help.
"Michael came to see me because he had taken out a complaint against the council telling them his car had been wrecked as a result of these speed bumps and they simply wouldn’t accept liability so I took up his case for him.
"I made the case very clear and essentially wouldn’t let them wriggle out of it and in the end they’ve given up and accepted they are liable for it. It’s quite clear it’s their fault and for that reason they are now paying compensation."
A year on the speed bump still looks the same.
Michael says, "The point is what we have here are obstructions on the carriage way that are actually illegal, damaging people's cars… nothing's been done. I think it’s criminal."
MP Emily Thornberry agrees: "A year on the bump is still there - and how many other cars are getting wrecked as a result of even that bump let alone the hundreds of other illegal bumps there are in Islington?"
So does the borough of Islington have more illegal speed bumps?
Inside Out decided to put it to the test and measure the top four most complained about humps using the latest laser surveying equipment.
Emily Thornberry MP.
Bump one – Barnsbury Square - measured at 150mm – 5cm too high.
Bump two - the top of Offord Road - measured at 122 – more than 2 cm over the limit.
Bump three - the bottom of Offord Road - 113mm - over 1cm too high.
Bump four - 110mm - Barnsbury Road – 1 cm over the maximum height.
Damage to cars
One of the few people to benefit from the oversized humps is Tony Marco.
His garage in the heart of Islington repairs at least one car each week as a result of the borough’s bumps.
Tony says, "Generally it’s the lowest parts of the car which would be the middle exhaust box, the rear exhaust, the oil sump and all the rubber bushes that move around and flex as you go over the bumps.
"Other boroughs do have speed bumps but Islington seem to have them higher than everyone else but they cause more damage.
"Most people don’t realise it’s the humps that cause the damage."
Does my bump look too big?
Taxi driver George Cato knows how damaging speed bumps can be: "I’ve got a shock absorber that was only replaced six months ago and I had my half yearly inspection a week ago.
"I had to replace it because the rubber bush at the bottom has failed because of the constant bumping on speed bumps.
"It’s the rear suspension that suffers too."
MP Emily Thornberry says, "There are numerous of these illegal speed bumps around the borough and the council really needs to rectify this situation.
"It’s very clear the Highways Agency has given clear guidelines and these are not being adhered to."
It's obvious that speed bumps are not popular in Islington but is there any evidence they prevent accidents?
In the borough of Barnet, under a revolutionary move, Councillor Brian Coleman decided to get rid of as many speed bumps as possible.
"As we repaired and resurfaced roads we took out the traffic calming measures and thought about whether they needed to go back in.
"In most cases they didn’t and the year after we began removing traffic calming measures in Barnet, our deaths and serious injuries fell by a greater percentage than any other London borough."
We contacted Islington Council to find out what they had to say about these illegal speed bumps.
Executive Member for Environment Councillor Greg Foxsmith claimed the humps in the borough were all within the regulations.
"We have no illegal speed bumps."
Inside Out told him we’d found five bumps that were in fact over the 100mm regulations.
"It may be that there’s been some road subsidence arounf the hump which means the top is higher than the rest of the road… I’ll certainly look at those examples but I have been assured that they are within the requirements," he replied.
Councillor Foxsmith says that if they are illegal, then the council would reduce them.
Back at Roman Way the measuring device shows that the speed bump is 2.7cm above the legal limit.
And residents are now asking how many more speed bumps break the rules.
last updated: 29/10/2008 at 13:58