diamond geezer

 Friday, April 18, 2008

When I lived in Suffolk, and owned a car, I used to think nothing of speeding around the county. I could do 30 miles up the A14 in half an hour, or 50 miles up the A12 in an hour, no problem. I drove my car at speeds close to those for which it was designed, and reached my destination with satisfying velocity. OK so my exhaust pipe was busy killing the planet, and all the time I was trying very hard not to think what would happen if I propelled myself into a hedge at great velocity, but I could never have held down a job without my own four wheels.

In London a car is rather less of a necessity. And, for those who still feel they need to own a vehicle, considerably slower. It's nigh impossible to drive at 30mph in London, let alone 30 miles in 30 minutes. Every time you stick your foot on the accelerator, there's either a traffic light or a traffic jam ahead. Every time you sense the pull of the open road, you're more likely to have to swerve to dodge a jaywalking pedestrian or negotiate a speed bump instead. Every time you think there's a direct route to somewhere straight ahead, there's probably a bus lane or a one-way system sending you minutes out of your way. And even on the rare occasions when you think you've found the perfect length of uncongested dual carriageway for a quick burn, there's almost certainly an evil yellow speed camera standing sentinel beside the road just itching to dispatch a huge fine to your doormat. London's no place for speed. How very tedious.

But that doesn't stop them, does it. Those determined petrolheads in their souped up motors, putting their foot down for a few brief seconds between road junctions just to show off. Light goes green, foot to the floor, roar of engine noise, screeching tyres, sudden halt at red signals. Bastards.

And I met them twice on the way home last night. There I was nonchalantly crossing Bow Road, oncoming traffic seemingly a safe distance away, when a white van came careering towards me like some kind of homing missile. I skipped rapidly to the central reservation, attempting to pretend that I wasn't in fear of my life, and the van zoomed past on its five second journey to the next traffic lights. I listened out, hoping to hear the reassuring crunch of bonnet on lamppost, but alas no such retribution was forthcoming. Shortly afterwards, attempting to cross a garage forecourt, I was nearly flattened a second time. A grey estate car rammed with teenage testosterone shot forward at great speed on the minimal journey from petrol pump to forecourt exit. Ten metres max, but the driver still managed to propel his vehicle at unfeasible speed past the free air and tyre pump before braking hard in front of me. His cargo of spiky-haired hormones seemed duly impressed. I noticed, as he pulled out into the traffic at half the speed of sound, that one entire side of the car was virtually concave as if it had been hit by a bollard several times. The other side can't have been far behind.

Certain killjoy Mayoral candidates have already expressed a desire to restrict London's speed limit even further. Red Ken wants the limit on residential roads to be cut to 20mph, while Green Sian wants every road reduced to 20mph unless local boroughs agree exceptions. I can't see either of those measures being entirely successful, not in a capital where average speeds are considerably lower than 20mph already. But I suspect the underlying aim of such a draconian limit is to make Londoners so incredibly bored with driving that they switch to greener transport. If it took two hours to pootle from one side of the capital to the other, even on an empty road, you might just switch and take the train instead. Unless you're a raging virile boy racer, that is, in which case no mere 20mph limit is going to stop you burning up the High Street in three seconds flat. Only a large brick wall will stop that. And hopefully soon.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream