Dirge from a disappointed driver

Can you remember when highways authorities saw it as their job to improve driving conditions? This seemed to work well for very many years, but now the worm has turned, and up-and-coming highways engineers seem to see it as their job to make life as difficult as possible for motorists. I imagine this is for environmental reasons. 

Or maybe it’s to get their own back on all those elderly people who find cars essential to reach shops, church, friends and so on. After all, most of us survived lockdown; so why not carry on staying at home? Meanwhile the structure of the city is changed to make life easier for those young and fit people who ride scooters and bikes – and who ride them much faster than we used to, because we only had three gears.

In my home town of Norwich the only route through the centre of the city has been closed to cars. Meanwhile two key road junctions have been blocked simultaneously for weeks, for work that seems considerably less than essential. But even if it is essential, why does it take so long? We are being lulled into accepting ridiculously long periods for a road to be out of action.

Meanwhile the police close roads for the most trivial of accidents that could be dealt with simply and quickly. And speed limits are getting slower and slower for no good reason. Slowness does not save lives: in many cases it makes roads more dangerous, provoking a lack of concentration and increasing frustration.

To increase my sense of claustrophobia the council has now decided that I cannot drive out of my cul de sac at all for two hours on Sunday because lots of people are running round the city. The fact that I need to get out during that precise time is neither here nor there. Well, it’s here, and not there.

Public transport? Good, if you live by a bus stop and want to get to another bus stop at a time when the buses happen to be running. But some of us oldies are not so mobile. In point of fact I live close to buses and a rail station; I can walk and can manage. But there are many for whom this is not true.

I don’t want to come over as having a victim mentality. But I can’t help thinking that things could be much better. Don’t get me started on the ludicrously shaped roundabouts on the NDR, for instance – they simply invite accidents. And what is the most urgent need on all our roads? Repairing potholes. Doesn’t seem to get much priority, does it? I wonder why.