D4D

Writing for the Slash and Burn crowd

Archive for the category “Driving”

Average 50

At the moment, my daily drive is on the M1, which has roadworks on it through ’til mid-2022. (Yes, it’s a joy)  Throughout those roadworks there’s a speed limit of 50mph, which is monitored by average-speed cameras.   And as I’ve been going through them, I come more and more to the conclusion that the average speed stuff isn’t actually all that safe.

More accurately, I don’t think they’re that safe when it comes to British drivers, and the habits that a lot of them have – which don’t appear to be the same as those of drivers in other countries.

The main problem with averaged 50mph limits is that it means everyone is driving at the same speed – cars, vans, HGVs, all at 50mph (or close to it)   That means that the British-normal of last-minute lane changes for junctions are nigh-on impossible (although that doesn’t actually stop people from trying it) Instead, you need to be aware of the other lanes, and plan to be ready for the junction far further in advance.

Additionally, British drivers being what they are, turn off their brains completely when in average-speed areas, and will just stick to a particular lane with no regard or understanding of anyone around them, or of moving over into empty space to allow others past. On any given day, it’s terrifying to see just how many drivers are there, zoned out, sat in the outside lane and overtaking two lanes of fuck-all.

All told, it adds up to a whole bundle of unsafe situations at any given time of day. I can see (and have seen) people doing this shit at 6am, at 4pm, at 10pm, and at 2am. It just seems to be the way things are in these situations.

Fun and games, fun and games.

 

Daft as a Brush

In an ongoing thread, there are times where I realise I really am a silly sod. This is another of those things.

A fair while back, the Cowboy Junkies (one of my all-time favourite bands) announced they were coming to the UK. It had been a fair while since they’d been here last, and even better, it was happening the weekend after my birthday.  However, that was also the end of the week I was already booked up to spend in Northumberland, which was a Friday to Friday booking.  And they were playing Manchester on the Saturday, and London on the Sunday.

So I figured what the hell, it’ll be a weekend, and booked tickets for both Manchester and London. Well I was up in the area anyway, and the London one was billed as being different to the Manchester one (although that has since changed). So why not? (Other than mileage, of course)  I’d drive over from Northumberland to Manchester on the Friday, stay in a hotel overnight, do the gig on the Saturday night, and then drive home afterwards. Easy.

And then the plan changed a bit. When I saw the play Queen Margaret in Manchester, I realised how painless the journey was by train. So instead I figured I could drive home from Northumberland on the Friday – allowing me to get laundry and so on done in the evening and so on. Then on the Saturday I could get the train up, have lunch somewhere new and fancy that had grabbed my attention, then walk down to the hotel, check-in, drop off bag etc., go to the gig, stay overnight on Saturday, train home on Sunday morning, then down to London for Sunday night.

Yes, I’m an idiot, and an absolute loon. But I cut my mileage by taking the train, and improved my own safety by not driving home from Manchester late on a Saturday night. So that, at least, was sensible…

Laziness and Safety

I regularly drive through Woburn, and at least a couple of times a week I’m amazed at how lazy people are, even when it comes to their own safety.

In the case of Woburn, there are two zebra crossings within a very short stretch of road. There are good reasons for this – the road is usually busy, and fairly fast. But people still cross away from the crossings, where it’s apparently “more convenient” rather than walking a tiny way to the crossing where cars *have* to stop for pedestrians…

The first one looks like this…

image (C) Google Streetmap

This is where most people cross – and you can see the markings for the zebra crossing at the top of the photo (the zig-zags, for non-UK readers) Note also that this is just after a busy crossroads, so has any number of vehicles coming round corners and paying far more attention to other vehicles than to pedestrians. I measured it on Google Maps – it’s 30 metres from here to the crossing. Not even a minute’s walk.  (I’ll also note that all the people avoiding the crossing are able-bodied, so it’s not like they can’t walk that distance.)

The second one (slightly further up the road from here, after a tight choke-point and just round the corner so out of view from this one) looks like this

image (C) Google Streetmap

This one is a bit harder to see – it’s a bit further, at 45m from where people actually cross – but it’s still there, with markings visible across the road.  Here, people cross from the pub to the hotel and back – and again, with parked cars on the right, an extremely tight road with drivers focusing on squeezing through rather than on pedestrians, people trying to park (or turn into the various lanes and archways along this bit) rather than walking that 45m to be able to do so safely.

I know people in general are lazy bastards and so on, but really, it utterly amazes me just how many (and even more so at school times, as there’s a school just back from where this shot is taken) are prepared to ‘save’ time waiting for a space in traffic and then risk their all to cross the road, rather than walking that tiny distance to do so safely (and actually usually more quickly than waiting for that gap!)

I don’t know if they don’t see the crossing, that they’re blinkered to just going straight across the road instead, or if they’re all just fuckwit examples of Darwinism waiting to happen.  Either way, it is (to me) a gobsmacking way to live.

MOT Passed

After the car hassles last month, it was in for its MoT test today.  I was hoping it would be OK – I wasn’t certain, because the MoT Test rules changed earlier this year, and there were a couple of bits where I wondered if it would fail.

As it turned out, though, it passed fine. One advisory (i.e. “that’ll need fixing sometime before the next test”) and that was it.

I’m glad – it means things are OK ’til next year, and at that point I may (or may not) decide to get something new.  (Or, of course, earlier on – if it fails between now and this time next year)

But at least it’s good for now.

Turbo-charged

It took its time happening, but the car’s now back, the broken turbo‘s been fixed and all seems well.

I actually got it back last Friday, but I’ve been travelling round like a dickhead since – I’ve covered a thousand miles already, and given the new stuff a good bedding-in along the way.

It’s not been cheap – far from it- although it’s still cheaper than getting a new car. But at least it’s now back on the road, and I’ll just have to wait and see how it does from here on.

Along the way, it’s also meant I’ve been considering what to do when it comes to getting a new car, doing some thinking and making some plans for that time. I’ll write about that some other time, though.

For now, I’m just happy to have the car back and working – now it’s just time to get it re-taxed and booked in for its MOT. Fun, fun, fun.

An Unholy Clusterfuck

It seems at the moment like there’s a massive conspiracy going on that makes access from my area to Milton Keynes into an absolute nightmare.

Last month, the Highways Agency started work on the M1 from J13 to 16, installing “smart motorways” stuff, and shoving in a dirty long 50mph speed limit, enforced by average speed cameras. (And there’ll be a post on those some other time)   That work is going on ’til March 2022.

Next month, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes councils are starting the second phase of their joint project to make the A421 dual-carriageway between J13 of the M1 and Milton Keynes.  That’s going to have a 40mph limit on it, and will be in place ’til the end of 2020.

So for the next 18 months minimum, the two primary routes into Milton Keynes will be speed-limited and being worked on at the same time.

And then just to top things off, one half of the other primary route (on the other side of Milton Keynes) is undergoing resurfacing work for the next couple of months – which means that my only other primary route is going to be handling all the traffic that should be on that one.

Like I said, it’s all just seeming like either a sinister plot, or a massive organisational clusterfuck.  Both of which have the same results, when all’s said and done.

Missing Bits

I think that the worst bit of having one’s car in the garage (except for the bill at the end) is that you never ever remember to take all the useful stuff out of the current car to put in the replacement one.

Usually, it’s not even the stuff you think of as actually being useful, until the time comes that it’s needed, and then you think “Oh. Cock.” (or words to that effect)

In my case this time there’ve been three times this weekend where I’ve thought that.

The first was really simple – shopping bags. I have re-usable “bag for life” things in the boot of the car.  Did I think about needing them when I left the car at the garage? Did I bollocks.

Then the weather changed (it’s a Bank Holiday in the UK, so it’s usually piss-wet, but I didn’t think about  that during the week) and chucked down a load of rain. So where’s my waterproof jacket that I haven’t used all year? In the car. Along with the umbrella. Sod.

And finally, when I was eating a packaged salad thing outside the other office in Chesham, where’s the cutlery I keep in the car? Yep, it’s in the car. Just not the right one.  For fuck’s sake.

It’s nothing world-ending, obviously. It’s just irritating, because it’s also stuff I just hadn’t thought about. Which makes me feel like a bit of a tit. (Not that that’s anything new or unusual, obviously)

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