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The time-honored tradition of the street protest is alive and well in France. This time, the target is a reduced speed law that the government says is all about safety; however, drivers claim the law is all about Monet, er, money.

In April 2014, the state announced its intention to lower the speed limit for motorcycles from 90 kmh to 80 kmh (56 mph to 49 mph) on most secondary roads. Both riders and drivers have clogged roads all over France driving slowly in protest. Traffic was even paralyzed in Paris for a time during a mass rally.

Despite the protests, the government may introduce similar measures in the near future.

The connection between excessive speed and roadway safety in Bakersfield has always been rather tenuous, at best. Speed is no doubt a very serious hazard, mainly because it reduces a driver's reaction time and, at highway speeds, every millisecond counts. Speed also causes more serious damage in a collision. But speed is certainly less of a factor than alcohol, distracted driving, improper lane changes, failing to yield the right-of-way and a host of other factors.

Speed laws in Kern County are just as much about revenue generation as they are about safety, if not more so. Speeding tickets are easy to prove in court. But there may be a change in the wind. With speeding cameras beginning to fall out of favor, perhaps governments are beginning to look at traffic laws more in terms of safety and less in terms of money. Ah, les bons vieux temps ou nous etions si malheureux! (Ah, for the blissful days of yesterday, when we were so unhappy!).

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