Wednesday, 15 December 2010

As Hendrix Said: Crosstown Traffic - So Hard To Get Through

Being ‘green’ often seems to involve self-punishment. You find yourself doing something which you started with the best of intentions and a warm smug glow but suddenly realise is difficult and annoying.

Think of those occasions doing the recycling when the lid comes of the jam jar and your trousers get smeared with Baxters’ finest, attracting some nearby wasps, causing you to leap, dropping your bag of glass which shatters across the car park underneath other people’s tyres. What? You mean this never happened to you?

Today I took action to increase the amount of biking I do. One noticeable difference since becoming a dad is time for cycling - indeed, time for anything - is cut back like a Tory-Libdem budget. Slashed. (But not decimated. This means to reduce by one tenth. Please pass this knowledge along.)

Most days I drive Wife Features and The Toddler Who Must Be Obeyed into Metropolis, drop them off and drive to my work but I realised if I leave the car at nursery I could cycle the last couple of miles to work, thereby reducing fuel consumption and improving my health.

Good in principle but in practice? Nightmare! Well, maybe not nightmare but something in the same class as the glass shards and wasp attack buffoonery described previously. I hadn’t checked my bike lights and one was dud when it came time for the cycle away from work in the dark so a back up light had to be sourced. I then had to negotiate the choked roads of the city with a major dilemma.

When you’re cycling faster than the traffic do you overtake it on the left or the right? If you go on the left you’re squashed against the kerb and risk bashing into wing mirrors or losing balance in a pothole or sunken drain cover. Many motorists sitting in a jam seem to think it’s necessary to pull in to the left. What’s that about?

If you go right you are basically cycling into oncoming traffic which might be OK in the light but this is the Highlands in December. It’s also quite common for motorists with the patience of a crack addict to suddenly throw a U-turn to get away from the queue, inviting any passing cyclist to lob themselves over their handlebars.

I’ve said it before: Cyclists! We want the moon on a stick.

There doesn’t seem to be anything definitive in the Highway Code - it just says motorists should give cyclists the same room as a car when overtaking. Nothing about what cyclists should do when overtaking cars. But here’s a lively discussion I found. It seems going left is universally acknowledged as asking for trouble.
So, how difficult would it be to create a dedicated cycle lane on some of the main roads around Inverness? Think of the benefits to congestion, pollution and health. And not to mention my blood pressure. There will be council elections in 2012. Guess what I’ll be badgering the candidates for!

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