I have previously talked about the use of my observational superpowers to analyse the geo-cultural variations in traffic lights. Indeed, with many years experience of driving I would like to regard myself as a sort of professional Gentleman Amateur in the general sphere of traffic management.
You know the sort of thing: new developments are appraised with a cynical eye and a firm grip on the steering wheel, each new disaster greeted with a reproving glare, a sigh and shake of the head, the all too rare improvements grudgingly admired, and gone in a flash as you pass down the road (at the prevailing speed limit, naturally).
And so, In my many miles of driving, with sometimes too much time on my hands, I am moved to muse on the solutions to many apparently intractable problems – one such topic being that of the strange behaviour of drivers when they reach a sign like this:
For many people, this is a command to form a single orderly queue about 5 miles out from the offending road works, and then fume/gesticulate/weave violently as a small number of other drivers (possibly acolytes of the Bavarian blue and white propeller) exercise a modicum of common sense to save a few minutes by driving up to the lanes towards the red blocks, and try to ‘merge in turn’, gasp, horror, don’t frighten the horses!
(There are yet other people that think this is a sign for a picnic area at the beach with cheap red plastic tables under palm trees, but we’ll leave tham for another day).
The ‘zip merge’ is a respected means in other countries to speed the traffic through the taper where the road narrows, as you can see from the diagram from New Zealand…
..yet it was allegedly considered sufficiently un-British to be excluded from the Highway Code until it finally made it in 2007.
Of course, pondering on how best to solve this problem of irrational bahaviour, I came up with what seemed like a useful solution to level the playing field at the Taper’s End. I won’t bore you with the details because I discovered the much more bizarre and entertaining fact when researching this topic: there are web-sites out there where such matters are discussed amongst consenting adults.
You’ll find them if you look at places like Pistonheads, DigitalSpy, UK Roads Portal (Society of All British Road Enthusiasts) , Pathetic Motorways – I do have to admit a sneaking affection for this latter site, as it does nicely demonstrate some of the more farcical antics of road planners.
What did the users of these sites do before the Internet? Hang around the Transport section at WH Smiths or the local Public Library? Publish grubby Roneo’d newsletters and round robins? Hold earnest discussion groups on a Thursday night in the “snug” at the local pub? Flock with cameras to major road openings? Wow, what a life!
So having having discovered that my great idea was not especially original, I have now moved on to a new problem to solve: the near extinction of the Chicken Tikka sandwich on the roads of Britain. Thanks to Smffy.com, I found a picture, but at Ginsters, nary a one!
The truth must be told – why has Britain fallen out of love with the Chicken Tikka sandwich?