A Driving Instructor's Blog

Roadworks

TumbleweedThis story has been in the news the last day or so. It concerns a new roundabout in Mickleover, Derbyshire, where there were 10 accidents within 48 hours of it opening.

Resident Peter Hall told the Derby Telegraph: “These accidents are not driver error but the result of a poorly designed, unlit roundabout on a 70mph dual carriageway.

“By my reckoning at least 10 vehicles have had accidents within less than 48 hours of this new junction opening – so it is probably the most dangerous roundabout in the country.”

Sorry, Peter. It IS driver error. It’s people being too thick to drive in accordance with what they have in front of them, choosing instead to put their heads down and hammer into the unknown. That sort of behaviour is one of the biggest problems with driving standards on our roads today.

It isn’t just young and inexperienced drivers, either. Far too many of these younger drivers will go through life not having a clue, and then they will become older drivers without a clue. Of course, there are already plenty of clueless older drivers from earlier generations, and they are almost as bad right now as today’s snot noses will be in 30 or 40 years’ time.

Some years ago, when they were building the tram system in Nottingham, they removed three roundabouts in Clifton and turned them into junctions. I can remember one of my pupils was on a lesson, and we drove down Farnborough Road towards where the first roundabout would have been several weeks earlier, and he actually stopped to look around. In the middle of nowhere! This shows what is going on inside some people’s heads. And sometimes, it’s not a lot.

Derby Telegraph has a video of traversing the roundabout from several directions, and it doesn’t look anywhere near as bad as is being suggested. It is clearly signed, and only a complete prat would miss it. There are “SLOW” signs, primary route direction signs, triangular roundabout signs, illuminated/flashing matrix signs, blue “left only” circles, both normal black and red “left bend” chevron signs, not to mention cones – which are always a bit of a give away that something might be ahead.

The most obvious physical “problem”, as distinct from the mental ones already highlighted, is that the approach roads are NSL – one of which is a dual carriageway. Being Derbyshire, that will translate to most of the residents as meaning “as fast as you can in your Audi or Corsa, whilst simultaneously peeling your banana and picking parasites out of your mate’s fur”.

To be fair, it would appear that some of the signage has gone up since the accidents, but not as much of it as the Telegraph (or Peter Hall) is suggesting. The direction signs – big green “primary route” roundabout signs – look very well-established, and if you know that a roundabout is coming then you start looking for it.

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Broadmarsh Car ParkOne of the more difficult road layouts for learners to understand is the T-junction with priority over vehicles from the left or right. The majority of allegedly “experienced” road users haven’t got a clue about them, either.

Essentially, what they are is a T-junction, but instead of the naturally assumed arrangement whereby the upright of the ‘T’ meets the cross-bar at a give way line, the give way is actually on one the the arms of the cross-bar. For all practical purposes, you have a junction on a bend – with the bend being 90°. You generally find them on relatively quiet roads. On busier roads – and in places where the local authority has at least two brain cells to rub together – traffic lights take over and the issue of priority becomes moot, since safety is far more important.

They can be quite dangerous simply because people don’t understand them, ignore them, or just don’t see them. So take a look at this video.

It’s from my dashcam, recorded during a lesson on 11 July, and shows the T-junction between Canal Street and Collin Street just outside Broadmarsh. Until we encountered the junction on this lesson, I was not aware this junction was going to be altered other than the likelihood of it having temporary lights while they demolish the shopping centre car park.

For at least 40 years, this junction has been controlled by traffic lights. It is one of the busiest junctions in Nottingham, and it has five lanes coming in from Collin Street. Since it features on Colwick test routes, it is vital that pupils know how to deal with it. Unfortunately, for the last 10 years, Nottingham has become one complete set of road works and semi-permanent gridlock, and the Broadmarsh demolition is just the latest in a series of major development plans which serve to introduce huge traffic restrictions on the busiest routes for ridiculously long periods of time.

The thing about traffic light-controlled junctions is that the vast majority of road users abide by them. Even the most inept of drivers will have had to understand the concept of red means stop, and green means go in order to scrape their test pass, and although you do get the occasional retard who is so stressed out by driving in the city they don’t actually see the lights, the worst red light jumping morons usually don’t push it too far.Traffic lights to assumed priority

Nottingham City Council, who have repeatedly demonstrated themselves to be incompetent when managing every aspect of Nottingham,  has decided that this busy junction is no longer to be controlled by lights, but instead has turned it – literally overnight and with no significant prior warning that I am aware of – into one where Collin Street traffic has permanent priority over that coming into the city along Canal Street.

Let me just put that in a different way: Nottingham City Council has altered an extremely busy light-controlled junction into one where anyone using it has to interpret new road markings and make decisions beyond the basic “is that light red or green” type. After more than 40 years.

You can see from the video that if my pupil had exercised his right of way, that pink lorry – operated by Seth Punchard Storage and Distribution (tel. 07557 193040), and with the registration number AY08 AHZ (which, incidentally, is not the white colour it is registered as being) – would have gone straight into us. He hadn’t slowed down at all, and I am fairly certain that we would have been seriously injured or even killed had he hit us.

Several other cars went through, and although you can’t see it, I was angrily gesticulating to a DPD courier van off to the left and pointing at the give way lines, because he was trying it as well.


The new layout is an accident waiting to happen. The Nottingham Post (I advise you to have a pop-up blocker if you follow this link, otherwise it’ll take 10 minutes for the page to load) is reporting drivers’ consternation already. Naturally, the idiots in the Council are defending their incompetence.

The part that makes me laugh is where they naturally start quoting clueless people in order to try and maintain a balance where there isn’t one.

Laurie Harking, a retired librarian, said: “…it looks like a pretty big give way sign to me, I’m not sure how you would miss it.”

Yes, dear. I’m sure the family of most of the person potentially lying across several different tables in the local morgue would be comforted by that. My video, above, clearly shows that innocent people are being put at risk.

Changing the layout would have been bad enough. Changing it to this particular layout is stupid. Criminally stupid.

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Four years ago, spurred on by the London Olympics, a lot of people with no brains took up cycling, and so joined a lot of other people with no brains who already cycled.

I think I should explain, for about the six hundredth time, that I ride a bike sometimes. But – being in possession of a brain – I tend to do the following:

  • keep away from traffic whenever possible
  • use cycle paths wherever possible
  • follow the rules in the Highway Code

As we all know, though, the vast majority of cyclists do none of these things. They deliberately ride in traffic, deliberately get in the way of traffic, deliberately refuse to use cycle paths and cycle lanes, and do not abide by a single rule in the Highway Code. And they’re just the good ones. The long and the short of it is that the number of brain dead cyclists on the roads has increased dramatically since London, and the Rio Olympics appear to have given the problem another kick start. As a result, the number of actually dead cyclists continues to rise.

Here in Nottingham, the City Council has decided that we should be like Amsterdam as far as bikes are concerned (it also decided we should be like Munich, Hanover, Vienna, Zagreb, and lots of other places it was nice to visit on expensive “fact finding” trips about tram systems, but that’s another story). Consequently, it has continued to plan and introduce more and more dedicated cycle routes – bravely ignoring all opposition – as it steamrollers its Cycle City Ambition Programme through every inch of road.

Probably the worst example at the moment is along Castle Boulevard and the surrounding area. This what the road used to look like:Castle Boulevard before the dedicated cycle route

Notice how the lanes were wide and there was already a cycle lane marked out.

But this is what it is like now, after the installation of Nottingham City Council’s Glorious Cycle Superhighway:Castle Boulevard with the dedicated cycle route

You can see how the kerbed area on the left has taken a significant amount of road away from motor vehicles. If you go back towards the city centre you will also notice that all the residential parking along the side where the cycle route is has been lost.

Further away from the city, at the junction with Abbey Bridge, the roundabout which used to be two lanes wide is now only a single lane (as are all the feed roads). This older shot is from the Lenton side before Google has had a chance to update its imagery:Castle Boulevard and two lanes on the roundabout

As a result – and bearing in mind that this is a main route into the city centre and the Castle Marina Retail Park – traffic is frequently queueing on to the roundabout, even outside rush hour. Nottingham City Council has, in its quest to make sweet love to all cyclists while systematically screwing all motorists, created serious congestion.

But I haven’t got to my point yet, I’m just about to show you proof that Nottingham City Council is staffed by complete and utter f–kwits.

Let’s turn left from Castle Boulevard and on to Abbey Bridge. Here’s what the road looked earlier this year (again, Google imagery hasn’t been updated yet):Abbey Bridge before the cycle route

Nice wide road with a cycle lane either side. Enough room for cars and lorries to keep well away from cyclists.

Here’s what it looks like now, with the Superhighway installed:Abbey Bridge with the cycle superhighway installed

You can’t quite see how narrow the lanes are now that more than a quarter of the road’s width has been given over to the new kerbed cycle route. Back down by the roundabout they’re narrower still, AND they have put in a pedestrian crossing more or less ON the roundabout itself.

Just consider this a moment. The area is more than 90% student accommodation, and is a ten minute walk from the University main campus. Anyone who has ever had to drive during rush hour where there are students and pedestrian crossings will know how much of a delay that can create as the crossing spends more time on red than it does on green. And you purposely put such a crossing right on a roundabout which – as we’ve already seen – is on a road which was busy to begin with, and which has been made more so by the halving of its capacity. And the problems already being encountered have occurred during summer before the students come back…? But I still haven’t come to my point yet – and you’re going to love it!

As you travel over Abbey Bridge and down the other side, you approach the junction with Lenton Lane on the left and Gregory Street on the right. This is what it looks like right now:The Abbey Bridge traffic lights

As the cycle superhighway ends, the road opens up into two lanes at the lights. The lanes are clearly marked as you approach, thus:Abbey Bridge lights - road markings

One detail you might not notice is that, having spent millions on building a dedicated and segregated cycle route, the Council f—kwits have not seen fit to provide any cycle lane between the end of the superhighway and the cycle forward area at the lights. You will understand that in normal operation, hundreds of cars will be trying to move into that left hand lane while – theoretically, at least – hundreds of Bradley Wigginses will be trying to move into it from the superhighway. And it’s not marked up in any way!

But I’m still not there yet. And here it comes.

This is what the road looked like until two days ago. At the weekend they had the road markers out, and this is what they did at this junction. It is exactly the same as in the photo above on the approach, but this is what you have when you get there:Abbey Bridge lights - cycle route markings

Precisely what that left turn arrow is doing there is anyone’s guess. But the placement of a marked cycle lane right in the path of traffic has to be the most stupid and dangerous thing I have ever seen carried out by people in positions of ill-deserved power.

It’s so dangerous it’s criminal. Literally.

I should point out that the last three images were taken from the same video clip I recorded when I drove through the junction today. I didn’t have a picture of the junction prior to the weekend so I simply erased the new cycle lane in the 2nd image to show what it looked like last week.

They simply cannot leave it like this, as it is an accident waiting to happen. The big question, though, is what will they do? The road is too busy – a lot of people turn right – to restrict traffic to just the right hand lane. It isn’t wide enough to accommodate the superhighway and two lanes either at or beyond this junction (I guess that’s why it ends 50m short). There are definitely two lanes on the other side. And the road has been two lanes for so long – decades – changing it now would be dangerous. In any case, the road leads to the ring road, and is a major route to Long Eaton, Beeston, Chilwell, and Derby.

Lenton students are idiots

Someone found the blog on that search term. ALL students are idiots. The problem with Lenton is that 99.9% of the population is student, so the problem is amplified.

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To add to the gridlock caused by road works – arranged by Nottingham’s incompetent council – an incompetent motorist decided to increase congestion today by “[becoming] wedged on the [tram] tracks” on Lenton Lane. You can’t beat a good euphemism.Car wedged on tram line 

I have yet to find a version of the story which makes it clear that the retard who was driving had entered a tram-only area and had actually fallen into the track cut out. The phrase “became wedged” doesn’t tell the half of it.

Whoever it was should be banned for life. If you’re stupid enough to do something like this, God only knows what else you’d be capable of if you were allowed to carry on driving.

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I mentioned a little while ago that Nottingham has become a horrible place to live in. It’s filthy, full of road works and trams, and has 20mph speed limits liberally and randomly distributed throughout. No one cleans up litter or fly-tipping properly. Buildings are ugly (they consistently demolish any that have character in favour of hideous “modern” constructions.

Maid Marian Way has won awards for being so ugly

No one maintains the facades of city centre buildings, in spite of most having been been stupidly painted white or built with more glass than brick. Maid Marian Way – which has won awards for being hideous since the 60s – gets uglier with each new glass-fronted monstrosity they put there. They cut down trees and shrubs on roadsides simply so they don’t have to prune them. They ignore the public, preferring instead to build wind turbines, solar farms, housing estates, and recycling plants on green belt land, even after “public consultations” has shown mass opposition to their schemes. There is no warmth to any of their actions.

Well, this is now semi-official. Nottingham comes 8th in the top ten list of council areas having the most deprived neighbourhoods within their boundaries (where “deprivation” is indexed in terms of crime, health, and employment). Yes, I realise it isn’t a direct statement of what I’ve listed above, but I think we can all agree that “deprived areas” are not usually going to be given any design awards. Mind you, one thing that is becoming clear is that such areas are guaranteed to get the tram at some point – the idiots on the council seem to think they’ll turn into model communities by sending in the tram.

Another story which hammers in another nail has just appeared concerning last week’s marathon. Now, I thought I’d made adequate arrangements this year as far as my pupils were concerned. I normally steer well clear of the marathon route, anyway, even if it means taking a long detour, and that’s what I did for my first lesson on Marathon Sunday this year. I arrived about 5 minutes late in Carlton, even though I’d given myself an hour to get there (it would usually take 15 minutes by the normal route). During that lesson it became clear that the marathon route had changed. Furthermore, instead of roads being restricted (i.e. runners and traffic in a contraflow system), they had simply closed them to traffic this time around. By the end of that lesson, traffic trying to get out of the city had increased to the point where it was gridlock. I had to cancel my next lesson in Clifton, and then I got a call from my lesson after that in Top Valley informing me that traffic was at a standstill around her house. That lesson had to be cancelled, too.

What had happened is that there was no north-south route through Nottingham on the west side (i.e. via the ring road), and not access to that side through the city. As a result, everyone was having to head northwards to find a route around the blockade (I later discovered that it was the same on the west side, with people trying to go north having to detour elsewhere).

I often refer to the council as idiots. That word is simply too tame. They are complete wankers.

Quite a while ago in one of my tram articles I said that anyone who was in an ambulance (or who was waiting for one to arrive), and it was delayed because of the tram works, should consider suing the council for criminal incompetence. Well, the same goes for the fiasco during last week’s marathon. That BBC article illustrates why very clearly.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) is Nottingham’s main hospital. You can think of it as being a large square building, with each side bordering on to  one of Derby Road, Abbey Street, Gregory Street, and the A52. Well, it turns out that the first three of those roads were closed completely to motor vehicles, and since two of them cross the A52 (the ring road at that point) –  where everyone was trying to figure out how to bypass the closures that they knew nothing about when they set out that morning – traffic was at a standstill.  The only ways into the QMC for emergency vehicles are off the ring road or one of the closed roads. The closures were, according to the signs, in place from 7am until “approximately” 4pm.

The BBC story relates how ambulance staff had to push a patient almost a mile in a wheelchair to get her to the hospital. A three-mile journey took ”more than an hour”. Race organisers claimed:

…there was a “permanent passage” to the hospital.

Listen, you twats, you cannot say there is a passage when traffic on that passage is gridlocked.

Since the ambulance was non-emergency, the same twats repeatedly exercised the power invested in them by the higher twats on the council and told it it couldn’t pass. The female patient was still in hospital on 1 October – four days after the marathon.

East Midlands Ambulance Service said on a few occasions, during the marathon, it had to use police escorts “to help navigate through the road closures safely”.

Yes, and I bet that in the gridlock that still didn’t improve travel times significantly. But in response, the twats running the marathon stated:

At no point was it radioed in that there were concerns surrounding this patient.

If there had been, they would have made sure she was blue-lighted immediately to the QMC.

We will use the learnings from this year’s race for planning for the future.

So there you have it. The last line simply states what everyone else can see: the marathon organisers screwed up big time, even though they’re trying to blame the ambulance staff!

As a footnote, I drove along a road in the opposite direction to runners (there were some contraflows), and they consisted of a lot of fat people walking and carrying those stupid round drinking bottles that hold about half a litre of fluid (approximately 3 litres less than a real runner should drink). Although I’m sure that they will, you can’t really claim to have “completed a marathon” if it took you over 8 hours and you walked most of it.

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Someone found the blog on that precise search term. The arseholes on Nottingham’s City Council have made it very difficult for the average driver with their overdue tram and the resulting speed limit changes.

Within the city ward there is the council’s “blanket 20mph speed limit on urban roads”. Not all urban roads, you understand. No, the morons couldn’t justify making it 20mph on all roads. So you find yourself moving from a 20mph zone, to a 30, then back to a 20 again, all in the space of a few dozen metres. But then you have the boroughs, who haven’t adopted the same policy, and to add to the confusion some areas of those (e.g. West Bridgford, in Rushcliffe Borough) are several miles closer to the city centre than some city areas (e.g. Clifton and Wilford).

Then there is the criminally inaccurate signage. There are still city areas where the original 30mph signs haven’t been taken down, and these stand isolated between the new 20mph signs. Much of the signage is probably illegal or non-enforceable, since it is of the wrong size – the City Council totally underestimated how many signs it would have to erect, and how much that would cost, so as well as the old 30mph signs it couldn’t afford to remove, it also couldn’t afford to replace existing large 20mph signs (where an old 30mph zone changed to 20mph) to smaller ones (now that those 20mph zones are within a larger 20mph zone). This breaches the The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD) legislation.

Beeston and Chilwell are not within the city boundary, and speed limits there vary for reasons other than the incompetence and bloody-mindedness of the City’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing. To answer the question used to find the blog, the speed limit on Chilwell High Street (actually, it’s Chilwell Road at the Beeston end and High Road at the Chilwell end) is 30mph along most of it. However, outside the Clown College for a distance of a couple of hundred metres it is 20mph. There are signs, but they are about half way in size between the big ones and the smaller repeaters, and they aren’t easily visible among the tram ironwork littering the place. At the time of writing they do not appear on Google Earth or Google Maps since the imagery on there was taken while tram construction was still incomplete.*

 

* It’s still incomplete now, but less so than it was then.

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One of the routes I often take my pupils on is along Spring Lane (from Mapperley) down to Lowdham, then back through Burton Joyce or off to the A46 (or the opposite way, depending on where they live). It passes the site of the old Gedling Colliery, which closed in 1991, and which has been used for some time as a dogs’ toilet by local people.Gedling Colliery Site (pre-2015)

The route is important, since it is one of the few remaining roads where the idiot council hasn’t cut the national speed limit to 20mph, although it has reduced part of the road from NSL to 40mph. It enables learners to be taught how to handle the type of road where statistics tell us they are likely to have most of their accidents without having to travel 20 miles out of the council’s jurisdiction. But I am worried that might soon change.

Council stupidity goes far beyond introducing 20mph speed limits on roads which should be 30mph or more. In this example, it concerns their conversion of the old colliery site into a “country park”.

I don’t know about you, but to me a country walk means dirt tracks, old trees, brambles, and mud if it’s raining. And it means not many other people around. To the council, it means digging all that up and installing Tarmac (or some other artificial surface) footpaths and a nice big car park for people to drop litter in. It also means extra lighting and footpaths outside for “accessibility”. And this is exactly what they have been up to for the last six months, with all the associated road closures and restrictions. Gedling Colliery Site - converted to "country park"

When I was young, people could lay several miles of new paved footpath in a week. As I say, it has taken them close to six months to lay 25 metres of Tarmac along part of Spring Lane, and temporary lights have been up all that time. Of course, this was carried out slap in in the middle of the tram works (which have overrun by about a year so far), the Ring Road improvements (which have created more traffic jams), and the grossly overrunning “Creative Quarter” road works on Manvers Street (where two lanes of city centre traffic now – and forever – will have to make do with just one, and where pedestrian crossings have been placed on blind bends for use by the kind of people for whom it is borderline that they should be allowed out unsupervised in the first place).

The “country park” also has a 34-acre expanse of solar panels at its heart (this was opposed by virtually everyone, but approved by Gedling Borough Council anyway – and it was built quicker than you could say “no, hold on a minute…”). The park narrowly escaped having a waste recycling plant built on it.

I won’t go on about the detrimental effect all this is likely to have on the diversity of species on the park, because for reasons best known to him, Terry Lock (the chairman of some group known as “Friends of Gedling Country Park”) who once saw a badger reckons it will increase diversity. So who am I to argue over such absolute scientific fact?Spring Lane

No. My point is that when I went past the place with a pupil last week, we rounded a corner to be met by rows of cars parked on either side of the road for about a quarter of a mile, creating a  corridor that wasn’t wide enough for two vehicles to pass at the same time. I assumed it was some sort of opening ceremony, but given that Spring Lane is a narrow country lane (as this old Google Earth image shows) I thought how irresponsible it was of Gedling Borough Council to have allowed such dangerous parking.

However, when I went past on another lesson over the weekend we encountered the same thing, but with the additional problem of people blocking the road trying to get into the car park which was obviously full, otherwise those hundreds of other cars wouldn’t have been lined up outside. I noticed dozens of people out on an Easter “country walk” with their prams and designer wellies, wandering along the artificial paths that had been installed. The indiscriminate parking creates a long and continuous corridor with several bends, so you cannot see if anyone is coming the other way. It also means people are parking on grass verges outside residents’ homes and screwing up the grass borders.

So well done Gedling Borough Council for creating an absolute disaster-in-waiting. Someone will get killed and it’s all thanks you your bloody stupid ideas of what constitutes a “country park”, and your desire to attract the kind of morons who don’t give a f*** where they park as long as they get what they want.

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I’ve mentioned before that Nottingham City Council (NCC) seems to be out to ruin this city. Nottingham is filthy. There is litter everywhere, the roads are full of potholes, and white lines are barely visible on most of them. Designs for new office buildings only seem to be acceptable if they’re submitted in wax crayon by local children, and no new building is permitted to bear even the slightest resemblance to any previously approved design, even if the two are going to be adjacent (or even connected) to one another. Symmetry is out, and the non-glass parts are painted in light colours which look dirty after the first storm (magnolia seems to be the favourite choice), and which start to peel after a year or so. Many have gaudy plastic facades designed to fade dramatically on first exposure to sunlight or pigeon shit. The preferred asymmetry provides ample nesting space for pigeons, who move in before the tenants do. Buildings are only let to companies which allow their employees to stick crap all over the windows on the inside. And at least 80% of any new builds must be student accommodation.Twenty's Plenty signage

But this still isn’t enough for them.

A while back I wrote about the NCC’s proposals for a “blanket” 20mph speed limit on urban roads. I made the point that 20mph is far too slow in most places.

In the absence of any clear reason for introducing them so widely, NCC came up with the following idiotic list:

  • streets more cycle and pedestrian friendly
  • greater community ownership of streets and parks
  • improved air quality
  • safer road junctions
  • reduced traffic noise
  • minimal effect on journey times
  • potential reduction in number and severity of accidents

As you can see, in NCC’s eyes 20mph limits are pretty much able to turn base metals into gold. In reality, these reasons range from the stupid (i.e. “community ownership”) to the downright wrong (driving at 20mph instead of 30mph may result in 8% fewer emissions, but the car is present for 30% more time; and journey times take 30% longer). However, at the time it was merely “a proposal” – which is council prat-speak for something which has already been decided, and it was only after they realised that they’d better do it properly that “a formal consultation” was arranged. I duly completed this and sent it back.

Before I continue, let’s understand that 20mph speed limits directly outside schools make perfect sense. But virtually anywhere else – and I include many roads quite near schools, and certainly sixth form colleges (where the attendees are technically adults) and shopping areas – they are completely unnecessary. They’re yet another manifestation of the nanny-state mentality of the very naive people who worm their way into politics and highly-paid council jobs.

What I didn’t realise when I completed the consultation was that identical ones tailored by area were being conducted in many other locations. More on that later.

Now, no one in their right mind – and especially if they drive a car – would ever agree to a blanket 20mph speed limit on roads. On the other hand, the kind of people whose brains turned to mush the instant they became parents, those who don’t (or can’t) drive, and certain people with a spandex fetish who favour two wheels would quite probably agree to it without question. It would not surprise me in the least to discover that the council deliberately targeted these groups when it sent out its consultations, but even if it didn’t I would be extremely dubious about the council’s claims concerning the response. As I say, they had already decided to introduce 20mph speed limits, and even if 100% of respondents were against the idea it wouldn’t have changed things.

Bearing this in mind, here is the council response sent out a few weeks ago announcing the “result”:

Dear Sir / Madam,

Having provided feedback as part of the formal consultation process previously I am now writing to inform you of the decision made by the Portfolio Holder of Planning and Transportation regarding the 20mph speed limit proposals for the [named] area.

The consultation period for these proposals ran from the 1st November 2013 and concluded on the 22nd November 2013 and the advertisement ran from the 15th October 2014 to the 12th November 2014. All comments and objections received during this time were forwarded to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation to enable a final decision to be made on the future of the scheme. All of this information has now been considered by Councillor Urquhart and on balance it was decided that the scheme be approved and implemented accordingly.

All A and B roads in the area will remain at their existing speed limits. This includes the [named road], [named road], [named road] and [named road]. Please see the enclosed plan which shows these roads highlighted in black. Furthermore all private roads will retain their existing limits. Please be assured that we will continue to monitor accidents on all roads within the area and consider additional road safety measures where appropriate.

All remaining roads on the attached plan will be included in the 20mph speed limit.

Yours sincerely,

The Road Safety Team

Just to clarify: the “Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation” is Jane Urquhart. I’ve mentioned her before, and I will mention her again when I get on to the subject of the tram and other road works in subsequent articles.

The idiots had already started introducing 20mph speed limits before the consultation was even initiated, and I am certain that it was negative public reaction to these suddenly springing up which made them decide that they’d better “consult” over it. They started putting in those traffic monitoring devices on all the roads where they planned to cut the limits. The supposed purpose of this was to try and fit real data into the RoSPA guidelines for where 20mph limits are recommended, one of which is that roads should already have average speeds below a certain level. The irony here was that the council’s complete and utter incompetence over the tram extension and “ring road improvements” had already caused virtual gridlock throughout the city, and any average speed measured now was completely non-representative of normal traffic flows. Many of the roads being monitored were at a standstill for large parts of the day during the monitoring period, whereas previously they had been free-flowing. In summary:

  • the council was going to introduce a blanket 20mph limit anyway
  • following criticism, it set out to retrospectively obtain data to support that decision
  • the data were flawed since they did not represent normal traffic flows
  • the council made the the decision that it was going to make in the first place

I was only aware of the changes in my area, and I hadn’t allowed for the size of the “blanket” the imbeciles were planning to throw over the city. Having ignored (I am sure) true public response, as of March 2015 it is impossible to drive for more than a few minutes without encountering a 20mph zone. And this is where the unforeseen problems arise.

First of all, drivers only discover that a road in any area outside the one they were “consulted” about has a 20mph limit imposed by driving on it – and only then if they notice the signs. For someone like me, who (and I don’t mean this to sound big-headed) is an experienced professional driver, it comes as a bloody great surprise to turn into a road I have driven hundreds of times before only to discover it is now 20mph, and I will not disguise the fact that I have been caught out several times – including on lessons – where roads that were 30mph in the morning (and had been for the last 30 years) were suddenly 20mph in the afternoon. God only knows how other drivers will handle it (and judging by how many of them overtake me and my pupils every day, we have a good idea on what the answer to that one might be).

Secondly, their stupid “blanket” has a lot of holes in it. If you take North Gate/Haydn Road in Basford/Carrington/Sherwood as an example (a single straight road about a mile long), you encounter a 20mph sign as you turn in, a 30mph sign at the first junction, a 20mph sign a few hundred metres after the second junction, and a 30mph sign at the end. If you turn off into any side street while you’re on the 30mph stretch then you encounter a 20mph sign. A more complex route on several roads – turning left, right, left, right, and so on – can easily present a speed limit change at virtually every turn. It is dangerous beyond belief.

Then there is the appalling inconsistency of the signage. NCC – being peopled by idiots similar to those I used to work for – appears to have separate highways departments for putting up the big signs (at the start of a zone), putting up the posts they’re fitted to, putting up the small repeater signs (which appear throughout the zone), and for removing the old ones. In almost every case they erected the repeater signs before the main ones, and they didn’t take the old ones down immediately. On The Wells Road, for example, the old 30mph sign just after Ransom Road remained for several weeks after all the others had been put up (and it might still be there, as I haven’t been that way for a while). Similarly, on many roads it was weeks before the main signs went up after the repeaters had. There was absolutely no coordination and no haste. The Wells Road example (and it wasn’t the only one I encountered) caused massive confusion for my pupils on several lessons until I realised what they had done.

The “blanket” – however many holes it has in it – is huge, and the number of new signs required must run into the thousands. Apart from the cost, and the already mentioned confusion for drivers at the myriad changes on a once simple journey, the chances of there being a signage error are now that much greater.

To the best of my knowledge, the police have said that they will not enforce these limits. They hardly have enough personnel to enforce the existing ones, so covering these 20mph ones is pretty much a non-starter. But if they did, the danger created by having drivers forever on guard for the next change would be enormous.

The icing on the cake is that, certainly at the present, the “blanket” policy only applies to the city area – the boroughs haven’t applied it. Now, don’t think that “city” means a small circle in the middle and “borough” means a bigger one outside. Nottingham’s boundaries are far from symmetrical, and Clifton – which is about 5 miles from the centre – falls within the city limits, whereas West Bridgford – half the distance away from the centre – is part of a borough. Furthermore, unless you have a suitable map, you would never know where one boundary ends and another begins, as they are political and not geographical. None of West Bridgford’s side streets are marked as 20mph, but virtually all the city ones (and many of the larger roads) are. This detail means that the chance of meeting multiple or confusing speed limits on a short journey is higher still.

Then we come back to the matter of 20mph as a speed in its own right. It is too slow. It is not easy to adhere to it in the first place on a wide and clear road – even if you’re trying – and especially not over extended distances. If you drop below it by a couple of mph, half of the drivers in the city are trying to get past or sounding their horns at you (and although they are still in the wrong, you can understand their frustration). If the police ever did enforce it, they would catch a lot of people who weren’t actually “speeders”, but who were still technically speeding. Assuming that the they followed the ACPO guidelines of 10% + 2mph, a speed of 24mph would get you a ticket, but from what I can gather Nottinghamshire police do not use the ACPO guidelines. That means even 22mph could get you a ticket, points, and perhaps a ban if you’re a new driver who has already got one violation against your name. I have no doubt that at some stage we will see the tap on this particular cash cow turned on, especially since very few people appear to be making even the slightest attempt to stick to 20mph in these areas. NCC will be anxious to avoid having to do a u-turn over its policy, so enforcement is the next logical step for them.

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This story on the BBC website is hilarious. Apparently, they’ve held a party to celebrate the “reopening” of Chilwell Road, which was closed in March 2013 for construction of the tram line.Tram works still incomplete in spite of party

It was due to reopen in January 2014, but repeated delays and incompetence meant that this was put back again and again. The funny part is that – in spite of the party – tram works are still not complete there. The road is not scheduled to open properly until the end of November, and given the track record here that might easily go further back still.

The contractor, Taylor Woodrow Alstom, is quoted:

We understand the works have caused significant disruption, and apologise for any inconvenience,

However, most of the construction in Chilwell Road will soon be complete and we would like to assure local residents and businesses that every effort is being made to ensure that the remaining works do not take any longer than necessary.

What has happened to our society when sheer incompetence can be glossed over like this? The original deadline has been missed by almost a full year. They missed it by 210% of the original target – it should have taken nine months, but it has taken eleven months longer than that. It is at nineteen months and counting!

It is also disappointing to see the local shop owners supporting the “party”, which seems to be a council publicity stunt. Have they so soon forgotten how much money the council has cost them with this idiotic waste of space of a tram system?

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People may not have noticed, but I am not a tram person. This is especially true when I am anywhere near the utter chaos that is the result of the current tram extension work. Clifton is a nightmare no matter where you go. But it is made worse by people like this:Idiot pared at traffic lights in Clifton - reg. no. SJI 5262

This is Rivergreen in Clifton, where it joins Southchurch Drive near to the swimming baths, The tram is going down Southchurch, and at the moment it is down to a single lane controlled by three-way lights. Buses turn into Rivergreen, which is a narrow road made worse by parking at the best of times. However, they have had problems with morons like this (registration number SJI 5262) parking outside the Methodist Church. Recently there have been “no parking” cones put there, but this being Clifton someone has stolen them (they might even be in the boot of this prat’s car).

I came down here this morning with a pupil. What you can’t see is that there are two more cars parked just behind us – spaced apart slightly. The sign on the left says “wait here”, and the lights have a sensor on the top to detect when traffic approaches. There was no way we could get to the stop line without blocking the road, and even where I stopped the pupil we were still actually in the way, especially if a bus had turned in. Shortly after this, several cars did turn in, and I had to edge us forward to give them space. This imbecile was about two car lengths from the stop line.

I often wonder why it is that people with private plates behave like the biggest tossers. This particular one could have parked a few metres down the road, but that would have been too simple. It was probably some old fart who thought they had some sort of special rights. Anyone with any sense – and believe me, there are quite a few people who park here who obviously have no sense at all – would have deliberately kept away from the lights.

As it is, you can’t help but think that all Methodists are idiots. They certainly seem to be in Clifton.

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