Paul Smith was the webmaster of www.safespeed.org.uk and an occasional poster in the past to uk.rec.cycling; he claimed to have ridden a bike in recent times but there is no evidence to support this, and his death of heart disease is a tragic testament to the fact that many enthusiastic cyclists failed to persuade him to take up cycling. He tended to cross-post to uk.tosspot, generally with unwelcome results, but was not been seen on urc for a while before his death, preferring to devote his energies to preaching the gospel of speed to the media, where he often receives a sympathetic and uncritical hearing from other libertarian petrolheads -- not least because they can't find anyone else who can make an even vaguely plausible argument in favour of speeding. He was also occasionally seen at cyclingforums.com, but more often on his own forums where he could control both medium and message, and ban and delete anybody who was too successful in debunking his statistical sophistry.
I took to addressing him as "Mohammed Saeed Al-Smith" after, the Iraqi information minister, due to his consistent failure to acknowledge that speed has any role in road fatalities. But, like the original Comical Ali, we should not forget the harm that his ludicrous ideas can do when combined with the credulity of his believers.
Two areas where we ran into conflict are his fatuous one in three claim, and his 12mph comedy web page. He described any research which conflicted with his view as "flawed", "biased" and even "shameful". His own "research", which is, according to the only substantial published analysis to date, flawed, biased and shameful, has never been formally presented or tested.
Smith was an "advanced" driver, and judged other drivers' skills by his own, ignoring the well-documented fact that most drivers overestimate their own skill. He waged a one in three" argument. If you debated with Smith, you'd often find that your reasoned argument was responded to with a citation from sub para umpteen of section mumble of an obscure TRL report, which hints that your point may not be entirely consistent with the Correct World View, which is that speeding is not dangerous (aka "ABD's Lonely Factoid").against speed cameras, although his reasons for doing so are somewhat inconsistent with the advice of driving experts that one should not exceed the speed limit. Originally he came across as generally well informed and occasionally thoughtful, although most of the of the threads he started were classic trolls. Following a three-month unexplained absence, he returned with a less balanced persona, as exemplified by his ludicrous "
Unfortunately, although it is tempting to dismiss him as a harmless loon, his Stalinist policy of repeating a lie until it becomes the truth means that some people are actually starting to believe claims like over 6,000 deaths since the mid-90s due to speed cameras. These claims have no basis in fact, are founded on both statistical sophistry and refusal to consider any alternative to the preferred hypothesis. Cameras? Cause death, definitely. The growth of mobile phone use on the roads? Negligible, consider it not.
The idea of obeying the law simply never occurred to Smith. He was of course a speedophile.
Smith was at one time a computer consultant of some sort, but the business went tits-up (it has been speculated that this was due to a driving ban). For the last few years he was a "full-time road safety campaigner".
Smith's version of road safety is somewhat isolated, rejected as it is by everybody who is actually recognised in the field. Importantly, although he was challenged many times to publish his figures in a peer-reviewed journal and he asserted that he could do this any time he likes, oh yes, there is no record of his claims ever having been examined and commented on by any reputable authority, other than the occasional tetchy comment from TRL about misrepresentation.
Which? magazine published an analysis of his claims, which quoted some experts and roundly rejected Smith's core arguments, but there is no scholarly rebuttal because scholarly opinion simply laughs and points and does not consider the arguments worth the effort of demolishing.
Jocksh did get to hear about the abuse of his rule of thumb in the 12mph comedy web page, and wrote to Smith requesting that his name be removed as it was an invalid use of the formula. It was temporarily removed but restored. Jocksh described Smith's idea as "interesting", Smith found this hugely flattering. I suspect it was irony.