Speed bumps are ridiculous things. They seem like a very unintelligent way of trying to manage the issue of speeding. They’re like band-aids; a small, simple, unthinking attempt at curing a big problem. Speeding is not a small cut. It’s a large infection, and so surely it demands an intelligent solution.

Speed bumps are also a reminder that people, if left free, can’t be trusted to limit themselves. Without physical obstruction, drivers will exceed the limits and risk our safety. So we heavy-handedly limit them by sticking roadblocks in their path – literally just building disruptive lumps in their way. Like helmets, speed bumps say to us: “You really shouldn’t do this, but if you must…”

We’re a species that keeps going faster than our reflexes can handle. We keep bumping into things. Rather than slowing ourselves down, or avoiding these unsafe activities, what do we do? We patch it up, stick a plastic shield on it, and keep on going.

I’m not necessarily arguing here that speed bumps are bad. They serve a purpose, and they’re probably effective. What I am saying is they look ridiculous. Where the traffic system is typically complex and mechanistic, plonking down bumps in the road to hold people up seems comparatively blunt.

In more than one way, speed bumps are reminders that our species is flawed.

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