Roadkilling it

The cars are back then. 

Take a look at Worldometers.info and you’ll see that the pandemic is far from over: globally, there are over half a million new cases a day. But we’re lucky in the UK: half of the population have had at least one dose of a vaccine, and the level of compliance with mask wearing in shops and other enclosed spaces is quite high. Cases are low here, and (infuriatingly) we’re doing miles better than our neighbours across the channel. So things are returning to normal: never more obvious than when you’re out on the road.

Monday morning, I sat at a queue at a roundabout on the dual carriageway near work for the first time in a very long time. The traffic streaming across the junction was pretty much back to normal levels. I find this depressing. Yes, I’m one of the cars sitting there, which I hate. But while I could theoretically cycle to work quite easily if I could use the direct route along the main road, the increase in traffic makes it impossible. It’s only about 12 kilometres, which I could do in about 30 minutes on my ebike. But with traffic back to normal, those 12km are fraught with close passes, impatient and aggressive drivers, HGVs, construction traffic for HS2, and potholes. So the back roads it has to be, which stretches the journey to 20km, fifty minutes, and 40km / 100 minutes is not something I can contemplate doing every day.

On the few occasions I’ve cycled to work (listen: it’s cold, so mostly I’ve been wimping out), I’ve noticed that the incidence of traffic even on the back roads I have to use has jumped considerably. There’s no fucking escape, and motorists seem to feel entitled to drive at top speed even on single track roads around blind bends. Neither do they feel inclined to give the oncoming cyclist space, or slow down, even just a little. Which is before you get to the people who just park wherever they fucking want, including on the designated pedestrian/cycle path — because god forbid they should park on a road and possibly inconvenience a fellow motorist. Solidarity, innit.

Most obvious, and most evident, the generation of woodland and hedgerow creatures that was born during lockdown last year is now lying dead at the side of the road.

So I’m posting this here, just so we can all pour one out in memory of the column centimetres filled in the past year by chin stroking journalists pondering the future of cities/transport/commuting. *clink*


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