Addiction to closing roads has to stop

The other day someone drove into the river near the centre of Norwich. It happened at a roundabout; so of course police closed the roundabout and several nearby roads, causing traffic chaos throughout the city – partly because the council has for years been intent on closing as many roads as possible, and often there are no reasonable alternative routes.

All right – the driver had to be retrieved from the river, and quickly, because he might have survived. Sadly, he didn’t. And I guess the car had to be retrieved, too – though the urgency for that is less obvious. And of course barriers had to be replaced, because there was every chance that someone else might drive into the river too. It’s never happened before, but you never know…

I’m making too much of this, aren’t I? I should be mourning the sad loss of life, and not worrying about road closures. And I do mourn the sad loss of life, but I also wish we weren’t so complacent about blocking roads and holding people up, because that can cost lives too. In this case the roads were closed for six hours, which I reckon is about five hours too long.

Whenever there is any kind of road traffic incident, the first thing police do is close roads. Sometimes this is necessary, but all too often it goes on way, way too long. And it’s not just the police. It’s anyone who digs up the road – a group of people who as far are as I can see are organised (I use the word loosely) by a shadowy group of conspirators who hate cars. This means they hate an awful lot of people.

I live in a cul de sac, which means I do not have a variety of routes by which to get home (or get out, for that matter). Recently the council (or Transport for Norwich, as they jokingly call themselves) decided it wanted to make elaborate changes to the junction about a couple of hundred yards from our house. This included a “bus gate” ( or as you and I might call it, a “road block”). Being near a junction, it had an effect on four major roads. These are already heavily used. The effect of the changes will be to make the congestion worse.

There was course a consultation. Amazingly, despite many objections, it went ahead as planned. Who would have thought?

So we have six months of disruption. The major road at the bottom of our street has been made one-way: that happened three weeks ago, necessitating long detours, and it was absolutely unnecessary. Nothing has happened on that road. It is simply coned off.

At the same time the two lanes approaching the traffic lights from two other directions (one of which we have to take to get home) were reduced to a single lane each – again for no reason. This led to huge tailbacks, delays and pollution. A couple of us wrote to our councillor, and this was changed; then they changed it back, we wrote again and they changed it back again. What a waste of time.

I am half expecting to wake up one morning to find I can’t get out of my street at all. There will be road works as far as the eye can see, but no-one actually doing anything.

Is it car hatred, or apathy? Or simply lethargy? Or some kind of corruption? It certainly isn’t democracy, and there seems to be very limited intelligence involved. Must be covid. If I screamed, would anyone hear me?