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In December our glorious leaders, in the form of the town council, announced that they were introducing a new traffic calming scheme. Finally we are getting a speed limit of 30 km/h (Ca. 20 mph) through the village, instead of 50 km/h (30 mph). This, according to google and my rather wooly maths, will mean it takes 2 minutes 24 second to go through the village, instead of 1 minute 26 seconds. A ‘delay’ of 58 seconds.
Cue howls of protest from local drivers.
This limit will apparently cause chaos. And… and… er… traffic jams, yes, lots of traffic jams… and it’ll cause more of that… oh, what was the word… began with a P… pollution, that was it. Pollution. Because er… slowing cars down means they pollute… more… Yeah: pollution bad. But not bad enough to stop me driving.
Besides. It’s not because of cars. It’s because there are too many Lorries. yes. All the noise and pollution is the fault of the 1300 lorries that drive through the village each day, not the 13000 cars: it’s all the trucks. And what about those busses getting priority at lights? How dare these lesser road users get priority over me? Don’t they realise that as a car user I am a superior being? And of course buses take up too much space as well. Get rid of them.
So what we need is more roads. nice fast roads running around the village so the lorries can go around the village and we can drive in the centre as much as we want. That’ll solve everything. What? The new road will go through a nature reserve. Ah, well, at least the roads in the village will be nice and clear.
After all, building roads for the last fifty years has worked so well for everyone, hasn’t it?
Drivers: you may have noticed a lot of white stuff hanging about recently? That is called ‘fog’: It stops you from seeing quite so far as usual, I don’t know if you noticed. Actually, I suspect you probably didn’t, judging by the numbers of drivers who pass me while texting, reading their phones, navigators, and in one case a paperback.
However, take it from me, if you were to look up from these important activities, you’d probably notice the fog, or at least the fact you can’t see more than about a hundred metres.
In the circumstances, I’d like to ask a favour. No, don’t worry, I’m not silly enough to suggest you slow down, stop at red lights or even that you switch your phone off: I understand that your very important phone calls and text messages simply cannot wait until you reach your destination (how did society survive without your wisdom being constantly available?). My request is that you might, perhaps, consider turning your lights on when you are driving through the fog. Thus, when you are reading your text message/novel et c whilst racing toward or through the next set of red lights, we can see you and keep out of the way.
If this isn’t possible, could you at least refrain from the rude gestures aimed at us when we have the temerity to be occupying the road/pavement/cycleway/pedestrian crossing when you want to be driving on it. The reason we are interrupting your important journey (or conversation, or novel) is that we didn’t know you were there…
So yesterday I went back to have the bandage changed on the smallest industrial injury ever. I was a bit apprehensive about this to be honest because I wasn’t sure where the surgery was, and after the faff we’d had driving there I thought it may well be in the outer reaches of Karlsruhe, or possibly Paris.
Then I looked on Google and found that this same surgery that had taken almost an hour of stop-go traffic to reach, was ten minutes away by shared use pedestrian/cycle roads and residential streets.
It isn’t supposed to work that way: cycling is supposed to be really inconvenient, fine for a trundle on a summer Saturday but not a serious way to get anywhere you need to go. I know this because I’m told by several people a week. Driving -even allowing for taking wrong turns, shouting at the navigator when it claimed we were at our destination when we clearly were not, and getting stuck in a one way system- must still be faster. Because cars are faster. End of story.
I suppose this has one advantage of making sure the cycleways are empty. If the drivers of Stuttgart collectively notice how much easier it is to cycle even on the paltry facilities we have, then the currently quiet cycle ways may well be filled with ex-motorists all trying to cycle as if they’re driving along an Autobahn, scattering slower cyclists and pedestrians then promptly collapsing in a heap and blocking the way at the slightest hill, and no-one will be able to get anywhere…
Or maybe it will become safe to cycle along those wide, smooth, well-maintained roads and a virtuous cycle will start, of ever improving cycle facilities and ever decreasing car use, causing drastic reductions in urban pollution and traffic deaths, so the only thing visible in the otherwise entirely clear sky will be the flock of pigs flying overhead.
I can dream. Still, cycling is a lot faster and easier than people think. I’m just saying…
Something to bring joy to a cyclists heart: on a very narrow residential street on the route to work there’s a diversion while the water company makes a big hole along one side. There’s enough space to ride a bike through, so I do: I find it much safer to deal with a hole in the road than frustrated drivers trying to make up the lost seconds on winding residential streets.
After passing the barrier yesterday I was in turn passed by three speeding cars, all -judging by the 3 cm of space they left me- oblivious to mere cyclists or pedestrians. Instead, all three drivers were looking with rapt concentration on the glowing screen of their navigator, trusting that the little black box would find a way through. A few seconds later the road was lit by three sets of brake lights as they realised that you really can’t get a car through a one metre gap between a digger and a concrete wall, and that all the driveways were on the other side of the hole, so there really was nowhere to turn around. As I left them they were jockeying for position to be first to get back out again.
This was tempered by the news brought home by Eldest Son last night, that a friend is in hospital after having his foot run over by a car. Here’s hoping there won’t be any permanent damage.
Suddenly, wearing steel toe capped boots on the morning commute seems less eccentric than I thought…
You are driving downhill on a narrow road and are faced with a gap that is currently occupied by a heavy truck struggling up the steep hill. Do you:
1: Wait for the truck to drive past.
2: Drive into the gap in the confident expectation that said truck will magically vanish.
Eventually the driver realised that this wasn’t going to work and got out of the way.