Why is traffic management so hard?

Those of us who are attentive and self-aware motorists often despair at lack of common sense employed in the world of traffic management. National and local authorities responsible for the roads we use everyday seem to have little understanding of how these roads actually work. Hence the blight of ‘smart’ motorways, ill-timed traffic lights, and reduction of speed limits on empty rural roads.

This deficiency of common sense has become apparent in my own town this past week. Bordered as we are by a river and a canal, and with a distinct lack of crossing points, North Yorkshire County Council has once again seen fit to close one of the two main bridges leading out of town for a period of three weeks for another round of supposedly essential roadworks. Why these essential works couldn’t have been carried out a few months ago when they last closed the bridge for essential works is anyone’s guess.

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Take the long way, it’s good for you

A few times a year, I go to a meeting near Scarborough for a couple of days, and the usual route to get there from my home in the Selby area is to take the A19 to the A64, and the A64 across, as highlighted on the map below. If there is no traffic, this route should take right about an hour. However, this is a journey I make somewhat regularly, and only once have I managed to do it in an hour. Usually it will be one hour and fifteen minutes; my most recent trip took over an hour and a half. Continue reading “Take the long way, it’s good for you”

Crossovers prove that facts are useless

Here is the thing about Brexit: there are no facts. Both sides of the debate talk as if there are indisputable facts that we must heed if we are to make informed decisions, but the reality is that we only have hypotheses and predictions. That is not to say that these are not valid and an important part of the discernment process, but we have never been in this situation before, and the outcome, whatever the final deal will be, cannot be known beforehand. Only in retrospect will we see how all the variables and complexities came together to shape the future of the United Kingdom. At this point, we cannot expect people to make a decision based on facts, because there really are none.

A crossover vehicle that I have driven.

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A taste of vintage motoring

Veteran cars have never held much appeal for me, despite the fact that the very first automotive book I owned, a gift from my grandfather, was all about cars of this era. While they are the forerunners of the cars we have today, they have always felt rather remote, resembling more the carriages they evolved from than anything in the last sixty or seventy years. In my mind, they were just slow and finicky, rattly and uncomfortable, and happily consigned to the pages of history.

When I moved a year ago, however, I met someone who has been a part of the veteran car scene for decades, and gained a lot of new insight into and appreciation of that era of the automobile. He owns several veteran cars himself, including a 1912 Renault AX, and his most recent purchase, a 1925 Austin 7 ‘Chummy’. Today, he brought the Chummy round, and took me for a spin through town.

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Find your cars on Google Maps

Last night, my wife was trying to find something on Google Maps, and in the process noticed that the satellite image that contains our house had been refreshed recently. Looking more closely, we realised that we could pin it down to a two-week period this summer, because there were three cars outside our house – the Outback on the driveway, and the E39 and Leon on the road. I bought the Outback on 16 June, and sold the E39 two weeks later.

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The epidemic of the wrong-way parker

Were we to highlight the selfish actions of our fellow drivers, the list would soon occupy a considerable amount of space. But I choose today to highlight one in particular: The wrong-way parker.

For as long as I have been driving, I have made efforts to park on the side of the street facing in the direction of travel. Friends have even ridiculed me for this driving pedantry, particularly when, on streets with parking on only one side, I would go so far as to find a place to turn round just so I could park facing the correct way. Perhaps I am an extreme example. But then again, maybe it just appears that way given the growing number of people who don’t even put a modicum of effort into parking properly and considerately.

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Yours truly being the only one parked correctly in this photo.

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2178 miles around Europe in a £1000 E39

Tell someone that you are about to embark on a 2000-mile road trip in a 19-year-old car you paid £1000 for more than two years ago, and they’re likely to question your judgement. Cue Jeremy Clarkson leaning in towards the camera, raising an eyebrow, and uttering those immortal words: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’

Well, in this case, absolutely nothing went wrong. In fact, thanks to the car, this was probably the most comfortable and enjoyable road trip I’ve ever been on.

A wet Monday morning, all packed and ready to go.

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