Random thoughts of a rapidly ageing Englshman who wishes he was retired and living in Fance

Thursday, 30 April 2009

There again, not always

I've been having a bit of a debate with myself recently - which in itself is a challenge cos not only am I always right but I tend to challenge stuff that doesn't immediately stack up, so it all gets a bit frustrating. I mean its hard when you are arguing two different points of view and you know both are both right and wrong at the same time and so need to convince yourself that you really are right....or half left.

Anyway what was I talking about?

Going to work. Not a pretty subject so no photo's. Sorry.

I have a choice of transport. For the last 10 years or so I've split the year in two travelling differently during Greenwich Mean Time and British Summer Time.

In the summer I commute the 16 miles on a motorbike, whilst in the dark nights of the winter I've taken the rather less convenient approach of getting Jean to give me a lift to the station, train and walk.

Then last year after much soul searching I bought a little car, largely so I could go fishing without marooning Jean, and justified it by saying I could use it in the winter to get to the station (or as near as you can park without paying £6.50 a day) so saving her a lot of dashing about, etc.

I don't like the train - its horribly crowded and the people push and shove and get cross and frustrated, etc. Whats worse is half of them don't buy tickets and all in all its pretty miserable. Add to that the new "improved" service introduced a few months back which improved things by making the trains a lot smaller and not having all of them stop at our station!!!! But the good news is you can get to London 10 minutes quicker (so in just under 2 hours) if you are unfortunate enough to have to go there. That said the trains have been reasonably reliable this winter.

So as Spring approached I started thinking oh goody, time to get the bike out.

But I haven't.

Because its just such hard work.

Let me tell you about the average ride to/from work. Its 16 miles and includes..... a mere 38 sets of traffic lights and about 10 miles of dual carriageway and another couple of miles of unrestricted main road.

There are 8 sets of lights between the edge of Chesterfield and the start of the Chesterfield bypass(?!!!) (about a mile). The traffic is heavy but generally I can ride past the queueing cars without too many incidents. Then off up the bypass (another set of lights on the first island) and round another too big and dangerous roundabout and onto the Dronfield bypass where the lunatics amongst us think it clever to drive at 3 figure speeds just because they can't get out of bed, etc. Then we hit the real traffic on the way into Sheffield. Huge queues of some very angry people and traffic lights every few yards. Yes there's about 30 sets in not much more than a couple of miles.

Entertaininly Sheffields transport policy states that because they cannot make public transport a viable alternative particularly in terms of journey times and convenience, they have decided to make private transport slower, less convenient and more costly to make public transport a more competitive alternative. Not a very Green approach but then its Sheffield.

So perhaps you can see one of the reasons why I want to retire to France....the roads really are like Simon says. Its true that if I was retired I wouldn't have to commute, but the traffic and importantly the angst of those caught up in it, is terrible all day long. From LGP you've got to drive a long way to find a traffic light - Loches or Chatellerault - both a good 20 miles away.

So anyway, no final decisions or anything but I'm still using the train despite the expense and inconvenience, but I suppose the exercise is doing me good. Just goes to show, Sheffields policy may not be popular, but it works!

Ho hum, I'm getting old!

1 comment:

Jean said...

I think a big part of the debate is that the biker in you doesn't like to think he's been beaten and given up. The reality is that the traffic gets worse every year and drivers are less and less aware of bikes. Driving standards are falling. Driving skills are good but they're all about pushing and shoving your way through. It's not the same as it was 10 years ago. The train is, sadly, safer for going into the city.