Matters Of Moment, August 1959

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The Double White Lines System

In an attempt to reduce the hazards of the road the Ministry of Transport has specified that the system of double white lines, which has been used experimentally in this country for some time and which is commonplace on the Continent, shall be considerably extended, so that blind bends and bridges shall be protected from accidents caused by drivers who risk overtaking other vehicles at such places.

On the face of it this is excellent. But in view of the fact that drivers with a solid line on their off side will regard the road as absolutely clear, it is essential that observation of the double white line system be strictly enforced. Already we have seen several examples of motorists ignoring the rule that under no circumstances shall the solid lines be crossed. If this goes on some very nasty accidents will occur in which innocent parties will suffer with the guilty. So observation of this vital rule of the road MUST BE ENFORCED and infringement severely punished. Apart from drivers who cross the lines in order to pass slower vehicles, either because they are unaware of what  the lines are for or because they are prepared to take an unnecessary and criminal risk, we have encountered drivers prepared to pass stationary vehicles unlawfully parked inside double lines. Either way this is to be strongly deprecated — such actions can only result in serious accidents involving drivers trustful of the double-line system and therefore driving fast round bends and over blind bridges assuming, as they have every right to do under the circumstances, that they have a clear road.

However, if the double-line system is to be of real value the authorities must be dissuaded from being over-liberal with this form of traffic segregation. In France such lines are used only where real danger exists and they are located sensibly to facilitate high-speed cornering. Prolonged unbroken lines where visibility exists and where passing is safe for cars with good acceleration will reduce materially the respect drivers should show for the system — and that way lies disaster. Already roads in the Peak District have many miles of the double lines and the average speed of traffic is likely to be materially reduced there this summer, with resultant congestion.

Another aspect of the matter concerns the very important one of legibility. A driver who is travelling really fast looks a long way ahead and places his car for corners instinctively rather than visually. Unless the lines remain clearly painted it will be difficult to discern the commencement of the solid line inside the broken line which warns of the proximity of a danger zone.

If these points are borne in mind and observation of the lines strictly enforced accidents should be prevented and fast drivers safeguarded by the new system.

Apart from double solid-cum-broken lines, we understand that a recommendation is to be made that where a road is divided into traffic lanes by single lines drivers should remain in one lane and not cross from one to another or drive astride the lines. Excellent advice that this may be in towns, it is impractical on more open roads, because even at moderate speeds a car cannot be placed properly for cornering unless such lines are ignored. It would seem desirable for this aspect of the Highway Code not to be interpreted too literally.

A Six-Hour T.T.?

This year’s Tourist Trophy Race, which is to be held at Goodwood on September 5th, will decide the World’s Sports-Car Championship and will undoubtedly attract strong entries from Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and others. If it is to carry full points in this important Championship the race must run for at least six hours, and we hope sincerely that the B.A.R.C. will recognise the status of this final race in the 1959 Sports-Car Championship by extending it from the four hours originally visualised to the full duration — from, perhaps, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.?

Those Old-Car Tests

Those compulsory tests of cars over ten years old seem to be hanging fire, which if they will save thousands of lives on the roads, which we don’t believe for a moment, is serious. But, having heard something about 17,000 new cars having to be recalled because they had left the factory with dangerously defective brakes, and having listened to a rumour of another make of 1959 car catching fire due to somthing amiss with its petrol pump contacts, our comment is — perhaps the older cars deserve their reprieve!

Stirling Moss on the Facel Vega

It must have been with some surprise that experienced sports-car drivers read Stirling Moss’ opinion, published in the News Chronicle, to the effect that British roads are not suitable for high-speed driving and that the average British driver does not have sufficient skill or consideration for others using the roads. So anxious to emphasise the danger of high speed on British roads is Moss that he declared that he wouldn’t drive his new 140 m.p.h. Facel Vega in Britain, “Not on your life.” Rather a startling Stirling statement. And a back-handed compliment to the English Concessionaire for these powerful French cars . . . 

The Daily Mail London/Paris Air Race

What a stimulating bit of nonsense the Daily Mail Bleriot Anniversary London/Paris Air Race was — congratulations to all concerned. With a control point in a Royal Park and seconds-splitting hops over the walls of Chelsea Embankment permitted, officialdom really let its hair down. The more serious attempts on the flight were a magnificent display of skill and initiative, from which nothing but good can ensue. So we say, bravo Daily Mail — and please may we have an Alcock and Brown Anniversary Trans-Atlantic Air Race in 1969?

The G.P. Du Roc

Peter Ustinov must have had enormous vitality to make his record “The Grand Prix of Gibraltar,” which is exceedingly long and very clever in respect of languages, and impersonations of Girling Foss, Fandango, von Trips, and others. There is much subtle humour in this record and some subtle digs at Germany and Russia, counterbalanced by fun poked at typical British characters. Alas, the fun has rather dated, jokes at the expense of Gordini making one feel ancient and, by jove, the thing does go on and on. It costs £3 (inclusive of 15s. duty) from Motortune Ltd. or Motor Books.

The Vintage Motor Cycle Club’s Banbury Run

Concours D’Elegance: The Feridax Trophy: A. H. Foxton (499 B.S.A. 1912). Best Pre 1908:  N. Manby (493 Orient 1901). Best 1914-1924: C. J. Hay (224 Ivy 1924). Best 1925-1930:  K. Cobbing (349 Ner-a-Car 1925). Best Sidecar Outfit: R. Rawlings (596 Scott 1924). The Sheldon Trophy (machine having greatest technical interest):  R. D. Thomas (930 Vauxhall 1922). The Joe Tite Memorial Trophy (youngest V.M.C.C. Member gaining first-class award):  R. Green (269 JH 1919). The Rotherham Cup (youngest lady competitor gaining first-class award):  Mrs. Anne Offord (220 Velocette 1922). Team Award:  The Martinsyde Team. K. Bradshaw. D. H. Rawlings, G. A. T. Brett. 

 

A very rare Edwardian, unused since about 1926, has been discovered by Philip Mann. It is a 1908 Hillman-Coatalen, which should appear in suitable events later this year.

Elstree Flying Display (July 19th)

In perfect weather conditions no fewer than 78 light aeroplanes assembled at Elstree during the afternoon of July 19th for the Elstree Flying Club’s Pilots’ Rally. Afterwards a flying display took place, at which the last Miles Magister to have served the Elstree Club was handed over to its new owner, this 20-year-old open-cockpit monoplane being escorted on its fly-past by a formation of the Club’s D.H. Chipmunks. After this C. A. N. Bishop gave one of his very polished aerobatic displays in his special D.H. Tiger Moth, including inverted flying and a fine “falling leaf.” There was a dual parachute drop from a Chipmunk, one of the parachutists doing a delayed drop, a pupil of three years’ standing took up a Chipmunk and threw it about with skilled abandon, and to replace a sailplane display the famous Comper Swift G-ABUS performed some rapid fly-pasts. Next, the V W-engined Fairey Tipsy Nipper tricycle ultra-light monoplane, which gives a fuel consumption of 2.2 gal./hr. and has wafer-thin disc brakes, gave a convincing demonstration. This tiny single-seater, 00-N1F, is fully aerobatic.

Finally, after a guess-its-height contest by David Ogilvy in another Chipmunk, came the highlight of the display — a fine show by the sole-surviving Gloster Gladiator biplane, which thundered off the run-way to undertake some very low-altitude loops, climbing turns round the sheds and fast fly-pasts. It was excellent and pleasantly informal entertainment in the hot sunshine, and Elstree Flying Club deserves to have increased its membership substantially in consequence. Incidentally, you can learn more about it by ‘phoning Elstree 3070, including details of the Flying Scholarship which Derby Aviation Ltd. is introducing to mark their 21st year of flying training. — W. B.

 

It is with regret that we learn of the death of A.C. Whincop last month, in tragic circumstances. He was a keen Bugatti owner before the war and held a B.O.C. Victor Ludorum Trophy.