A Driving Instructor's Blog

Transport

After that idiot Francis Maude told everyone to go out an panic buy fuel today – and after his so-called boss made matters worse by implying that people should only panic buy sensibly – that’s exactly what they were doing tonight (minus the “sensible” part).

There were huge queues at the garages.

They weren’t putting much in, either. A stupid bitch in a white BMW X6 attempted to barge her way in front of me (and failed), and then spent literally less than 30 seconds putting diesel in the damned thing after she’d pushed in front of someone else. She must have spent less than a tenner!

If they can’t afford to run the damned things properly they shouldn’t have them. As I often tell my pupils, not all of the jackasses who have these big cars actually own them. They technically belong to the finance company.

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This email alert came in via the DSA. The entire situation is down to a bunch of arseholes and a union. So just a big bunch of arseholes really. This simple fact doesn’t stop the lower primates trying to blame the DSA somehow.

I can’t really think of any publication out there (other than the Arseholes’ Union Newsletter) which would advise the public to go out and panic buy, break speed limits, queue at forecourts on purpose to cause disruption, and so on. So the DSA’s advice is:

Motorists can also help by following the following sensible advice:

  • don’t change your purchasing behaviour, refuel as you normally would, planning ahead if you have a long journey to go on
  • stick to speed limits as this helps conserve fuel
  • don’t queue at petrol forecourts, this causes congestion and increases disruption
  • check travel sites and latest news before travelling

In actual fact, this is what all the newspapers are saying, and the AA, and other motoring groups. It is the standard advice at times like these.

The only problem is that people who aren’t tanker drivers and who aren’t fully paid up members of the Arseholes’ Union are not automatically any further up the evolutionary ladder. And they WILL go out and panic buy.

My opinion is that the media should simply not publicise the Arseholes’ Union’s intentions. But since that is never going to happen, sensible advice has to be given – even if people aren’t going to follow it.

Addendum: And it transpires that the Mickey Mouse coalition – much beloved by many of the lower primates out there – actually HAS advised people to panic buy.

The Fire Service is furious, because apart from the danger to the pond life which will be storing it in plastic buckets in its kitchens and bedrooms, there is also the danger to firemen who enter burning buildings not expecting to find gallons of fuel sitting around.

There was a queue outside Morrisons in Netherfield this afternoon. All the mummies in their 4x4s taking “sensible precautions” as advised by Cameron and his gang.

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An email alert from the DSA says that more than half of all motorists use the DVLA’s digital services to tax their car or declare it off the road.

I was pleasantly surprised by this – but then I saw the bit about how “digital services” means online AND telephone services. I would imagine that the percentage using the actual “online” part is considerably less than the overall figure.

Still, Mike Penning finds a totally positive spin for the situation, claiming that more motorists want to deal with the DVLA at a time and place to suit them.

What exactly does he think they wanted previously? Or what does he think the other half want now? Do they want to deal with the DVLA at an extremely inconvenient time and place?

Maybe his daughter told him what to think, because Penning seems incapable of drawing logical conclusions out of anything for himself.

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As I mentioned in the previous article (Despatch), there was an interesting snippet at the end about proposals to give councils the power to control roadworks. Under what are called “lane rental” schemes, utility companies could be charged £2,500 per day to dig up the busiest roads at peak times.

Personally, I don’t think it goes far enough. They should be charged £5,000 an hour to dig up ANY road. That way, they might get some work done instead of pratting around for a couple of hours a day and installing traffic lights and lane restrictions which persist during rush hour, causing massive tailbacks.

The water and gas companies are easily the worst offenders.

They dig up the road, then spend a minimum of two days doing absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, the rest of us have to endure temporary lights – often three- or four-way – while the road is effectively blocked.

Once upon a time, they’d put a big metal sheet over the hole after they finished work for the day. They still could in most cases, since the hole is rarely more than about half a metre wide and maybe three or four metres long. No doubt Health & Safety issues are involved, though.

Also, once upon a time, they’d get the job finished in a couple of hours – often during the night. I can’t see what has changed to the extent that the same simple repairs now take at least a week, with working hours only between 10am and just after midday at best. Again, I suspect Health & Safety is involved – after all, if they can’t get enough people to stand around in yellow hi-vis jackets doing nothing, how on earth can a gas or water leak possibly get fixed?

Mind you, it isn’t JUST the water and gas people. This picture from Google shows what University Boulevard in Nottingham looked like. Until recently, that is.

University Boulevard, Nottingham

Even in winter, it was one of the nicest looking roads in Nottingham, with mature Lime trees lining both sides, creating an avenue with a footpath and cycle lane for the Spandex boys to ignore completely during rush hour.

But, it isn’t like that any more. Most of the trees on the left have been felled for the bloody tram extension. It has been chaos as they closed one lane of the road – and God only knows what it will be like when they start building the tramline. Anyone who has seen any of the Nottingham tram areas will know they are concrete monstrosities. You can’t have trees near the overhead lines, it seems.

Cities which have grown around tram systems are beautiful (places like Munich and Hannover spring to mind). Cities in which tram lines have grown through the city are ugly monstrosities with huge traffic problems. And they will remain so, no matter how many Mickey Mouse green awards the city in question insists on giving to itself.

Given the carbon footprint involved in building them and powering them, the tiny number of people they can carry in proportion to the number who need to travel, and the amount of extra congestion they cause for cars during peak hours, trams are the biggest “Green Herring” of all time. And especially so in Nottingham.

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This story has been on the news the last few days, and it concerns “issues” over satnav devices giving “wrong directions”.

The story is heavy on the usual media overkill. The vast majority of cases involving satnavs giving “wrong directions” are down to people being too stupid for words. The big question is not what to do with their satnav software, but whether these people should be allowed on the roads in the first place.

You’ll get lorry drivers going down roads that are too narrow for their vehicles – even though it is a perfectly legal route, and absolutely fine for anyone else. Or you’ll get people taking “the next turn right” and ending up on canal tow paths or railway lines because they’re simply too thick to recognise the difference between a road and… well, NOT a road.

Even the examples of ambulances “teetering on 100ft cliffs” would require a lot more information before I would concede the satnav was to blame. Even big-nuts emergency Innocent-looking Road from Google Mapsservice drivers possessing all the relevant anorak certificates are capable of judgement errors in the heat of the moment.

But it isn’t specifically the satnavs which are at fault. Even if the driver were following a printed road atlas mistakes could be made.

The road shown on the left, and clipped at high zoom from Google Maps, shows nothing unusual. However, in reality where it crosses that stream (which looks like a lake on the map), there is a FORD. The corresponding Google image on the right shows this Google Image of the Fordclearly. I take my pupils there sometimes… but not when it’s been raining, because then it COULD be as big as a lake (and often is)!

It’s only when you look at a genuine Ordnance Survey map (this one below is copied from their online resource) that there is any hint of there being anything unusual there – and even then you’ve got to be observant enough to note that the stream appears across the road and not under it. You’d need one of those huge fold-out hiking maps to get this sort of detail, but then a simple ½ mile trip to the shops would straddle three of them!

Most modern road atlases are NOT Ordnance Survey standard and this sort of information simply isn’t detailed – and even when it is you need a magnifying glass to eOrdnance Survey Map of the same roadven get close to being able to identify features like this from the style of print.

There was a time when good road atlases had features like this lettered with “FORD” in tiny writing, but many such crossings have disappeared – and I suppose it saves money omitting those that remain.

It isn’t the satnavs, but the maps which are deficient – if you can call it “deficient” not to identify every tiny feature. And even then, they’re only deficient if those using them are also lacking in common sense.

My point is that even when the information is present, it is so insignificant as to be easily missed. This ford is just one example, but almost all cases of lorries getting stuck in narrow lanes, or under low bridges; and of people trying to drive up sheer cliff faces only to discover they can’t are down to stupidity (and poor road skills) on one hand, and the difficulty in providing sufficient detail to cater for such stupidity on the other.

Are satnavs going to have to now contain data on gradients? Or warnings for every single river that might have a tow path entryway near it? Or perhaps audible alerts to identify field gateways and farm driveways for the benefit of the peripatetic pillocks passing by?

It would appear that the Transport Minister thinks so.

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I heard today that the go ahead has finally been given for the A453 to be widened between Nottingham and the M1 (Junction 24). Work should begin within 3 years.

A453 at a standstill - project to widen given the go ahead

Of course, the idiots in Clifton who have continually opposed it will continue to do so – of that you can be certain. This is in spite of the fact that the road section to be widened is the second most congested stretch of road in the whole country – behind only a certain section of the M25, so you can see how bad it is.

This whole fiasco has been going on for at least 20 years.

The A453 is a single carriageway road along almost its entire length. It is approximately 10 miles between Clifton and the M1, and yet from early afternoon traffic is at walking speed or less much of the time, so it can take an hour or more to get from Nottingham to the motorway. It is shocking that the whole project has taken so long to approve, and even more shocking that the idiots who opposed it have even been listened to – let alone listened to so many times. All objections should have been overruled at the outset, since the baseline issue is far more serious than the wishy-washy “it’ll divide our community” nonsense the objectors have been spouting (it’s all they have).

Almost without fail, there is a daily accident or breakdown which makes the problem a hundred times worse.

The only part of the project I don’t like is the 1,000-space car park and Park + Ride system they will build just outside Clifton. It will destroy green belt land. And the bloody tram is going up that way at some stage – everything has to make room for that useless waste of space.

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