9 August 2007

Ride to Work!

I had this vague idea that riding to work in the summer holiday would be easier and less stressful than normal days when the commuters are racing to work.

The traffic in August is only marginally lighter, the roadworks on the M25 don't help. You realise that whilst there are some wallies on the road, at least out of the holiday season, they are consistent wallies!

Mr and, more often than not, Mrs Vacationer, is far less predictable. Put one of them at the wheel of a car, add a liberal dose of kids and then they weave from lane to lane, mess about with their stereos or whatever it is that means they take their eyes off the road ahead, and generally are a menace.

Only today I had "Mum" (not her real name obviously) at the wheel of an MPV who was unable to actually keep to a consistent speeds, ebbing and flowing in the fairly open reaches of the M20, varying anything between 50 and 70 mph. As I past her she was looking down at her lap for the best part of 15 to 20 seconds... at 70mph... work out how far she had travelled! Around a third of a mile (or say 500 metres) looking down and not at the road. On the phone? Texting? DANGER WILL ROBINSON!

Then there's the summer driver. Usually a man (although we can't let women off the hook too easily), who drives all year round but whose annual mileage hardly exceeds 4000 miles. The summer provides him with his one long journey of the year and he has chosen the same part of France or Germany or wherever as I have. He's also thrifty, his 1990 Escort or more recent Proton is getting old but is in showroom condition. He won't use the toll roads. On the one hand he moans about the state of Britain's roads, but when asked to pay a toll is the first to write to his local paper to complain about road tolls and the iniquity of the use of Road Fund to pay for a few more bullets in Iraq. He has no great idea how to drive for extended periods as his main driving experience is to the station or the supermarket. So he crawls. As he is British he has a right-hand drive car. This makes the autoroute safer in reality, but that inner force that makes sure he never pays a toll means he is sharing the N-roads with you, and he is unable to overtake anything other than the occasional Tour de France wannabe on a cycle. He heads a queue of irate locals without a care in the world. The French can do irate as well as the next man; calm to incandescent in 2 seconds. Except they have another "talent", the ability to overtake in the most ridiculous places, and a lot of that fuelled by being stuck for miles behind Mr Summer Driver!

Worse still, that strange animal, the Human Snail, comes out in the summer. A rare sighting in the winter, once the barometer rises and the calendar gets to June, the roads are increasingly clogged with them; Caravanners. Why? What is there really wrong with a hotel or B&B?

With trucks the next worst thing on the roads and an all year round hazard, as you glide along the motorways of England you see the brake lights coming on and the traffic building into a jam ahead. Quite often, there he is, usually a man but occasionally a woman, their car struggling to meet the legal limit and on the back, their home from home stuck in the middle lane. Unable to get back to the safety of the left lane as the trucks on the inside can't slow down to let him in. And then OMG, there's a big hill ahead for them to crawl up in a deathly rictus! Arrgghh.

Please don't get me started on the old blokes that despite advances in automotive engineering over the last five decades, still wear a hat and coat to drive. For Christ's sake, they have had efficient heaters in even the cheapest car for 40 years! I know your basic Mini or Ford Prefect had no heater and it was colder back in the dark ages, but you have a modern car now. Try reading the manual about how to work the heating and leave the hat and coat for when you get out! Cars have pretty good water sealing, so you don't have to keep an umbrella up in the car when it rains, so why persist with the bloody hat and coat????

Oh well, the holiday season is over for another year soon...

1 comment:

Shireen said...

You write well.. that was very amusing..

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