I used to think that “easy targets” were just cyclists and pedestrians when being pitted against the might of the motor car. But now, in a downright populist chasing move, I’m going to lampoon the state of the UK road system while offering absolutely no solutions other than everyone cycling. Which down the six lane M25 could be a whole lot of fun.

So my easy target is the road pollution of South East England. And while it is properly shit, it is unfair to label this as the poster child for all of the UK. My experience of the rural byways and backwaters of “proper up north” are rush hours consisting of three cars waiting at a roundabout. That doesn’t include the major cities of course, or the Lake district, or most of the M6 or M1. But I still think I have made a pretty valid point there.

My lack of car usage has now passed into a total apathy around any maintenance such as adding petrol to the tank, cleaning the car (I don’t even know what colour it is anymore) or pumping up the tyres. This last laziness left me with a partial flat and a£90 replacement after failing to notice it was somewhat closer to the ground than it’s fellows, then driving round on it until it exploded.

This morning, I had a ChiltenRailwayEsque journey of over two hours to reach that oh-so distant county that is Surrey. A total of 63 miles including a desperate search for a petrol station and 55 minutes of doing precisely nothing in the World’s biggest car park. The Highways Agency keeps digging it up to add lanes to the wrong side and the car owning population responds by buying another one for their son/daughter/dog/goldfish and we’re back to where we started.

Which is going nowhere very slowly. How could you do that every day? I even left late to miss the traffic but that’s nonsense because the congestion never really stops, it just moves about a bit. Marooned on a six lane motorway with only some interesting ear wax to harvest, it occured to me that short of tarmacing the entire counties of Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire, there’s no obvious solution other than less people, less cars or less journeys.

They could take the train of course. MWAAAHHHHHHH, go on, I dare you.

7 thoughts on “Traffic

  1. Dave Craggs

    > other than less people

    Would solve most of the worlds problems – but ain’t going to happen 🙁

    World war III or a nice global virus could help.

    Better start digging the bunker.

    Dave – (after several glasses of the red stuff…. hic)

  2. Marc

    I’d rather you didnt tarmac Hampshire thanks.

    as for the train, between Southampton Airport and Winchester (normally 10 minutes) took an hour and 10 this morning. SWT could have Chiltern in a fight for being the crappest into London!


  3. Alex

    Marc – oh let me have Basingstoke at least as an overflow carpark 🙂 Nobody beats CR tho – they are rubbish ALL THE TIME.

    Dave – I was going to write some huge missive on how we’re tarmacing our overcrowded little island and how stupid it is that it’s easier to build cars than roads and so we’ll put up with spending hours sat in our air conditioned little boxes pissing fumes into the atmosphere and getting stressed. But it was too depressing, so I cracked open the wine as well.

  4. Greetings from Montana. I’ve enjoyed your blog for some time- (meaning the last week when I found it and read lots of back posts). The part about the neglected car resonates for me. My wife and I arrived here in Missoula almost 2 years ago and got an apartment outside of town, a short drive from everywhere and a walk to nowhere. We came with two cars.

    After six months, we moved into town, where my primary commute is a distance of one mile each way and the commute to my second job is 3.5 miles each way, mostly on bike paths. We sold my car (had to pump up a tire just to move it out of its parking space) last summer and I dumped the little money from that into commuterizing an old Trek 930.

    Our remaining car mostly gets driven in and out of the garage so we can access the bikes hung from the rafters there. Coming home from the grocery store last night, my wife remarked to me: “wouldn’t it be nice to do away with the car and just have loads of different bikes?” Yes, I married the right woman.

  5. I’m quite looking forward to going to watch 28 weeks later when it comes out. The apocalyptic UK didn’t look so bad in the first film, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with now the budget is more than a pocketful of change and a packet of Tangfastics for swapsies.

    It does of course raise an interesting question. If some biologically engineered virus was released into the population that changed people into blood lusting zombies, what tyres would be best for getting away from them? Would you want to chance a tubeless setup? I suppose if you survived the zombies riding around in a deserted UK would be ace.

    Oh and I agree with what Matt from Montana said – Matt if your listening, if your wife has a younger sister… 🙂

  6. nickc

    You live the wrong county. We moved to Northants (in effect 35 miles up the road) but in reality a world way in terms of traffic. Brackley’s now a feeder town for places like Oxford Milton Keynes and Northampton, which means the only traffic jam round here is the one out of town at about 7.30. So by the time I’ve walked my daughter to school, and ambled along to the shop for a paper all the commuters have looong gone. Then it’s a nice 30 minute walk through the country side to the office, there are traffic jams, some times I have to wait on one side of the bridge over the Nene, to let the dog walkers over. :¬)

  7. Alex

    It’s pretty much the same here until the angry snake of a million commuters converge on the M25. I remember – when I used to drive into London 3 times a week – seeing a sign advising drivers that “road works here for 104 weeks. Delays likely”. It was at that point when I decided to change jobs.

    Hi Matt. Montana eh? Land of the big skies and great ski-ing. Good job I’m not the jealous type 😉

    Chris – I think you’re meant to have a maniacal expression and be stroking a fluffy white cat before you’re allowed to talk about killer viruses. But tubeless is evil anyway. I reckon the singlespeed Jihad would take over the world 😉

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