On the Road
I see that a correspondent took me to task last month for mentioning the difficult turn-off from the M50, when crossing it to make for Ledbury, saying that this is not so unless one is using the road as a race-track. I certainly do not regard it as that, because it is guarded by a Give-Way sign. The difficulty arises because of one’s view of traffic approaching from the left being obscured as it comes at you at a legitimate 60 m.p.h. round a righthand bend — this is no “country bye-road” as Mr. Peachy describes it, but the A417 — from Gloucester — and also because a traffic bollard further obscures one’s vision, and because to the right there is the bridge parapet. It seems to me that while the good pick-up of modern cars enables such hazards to be safely negotiated, local authorities seldom make allowances for the fact that not every vehicle using their roads possesses such pick-up.
London’s traffic would be even more chaotic than it now is, were we back in the age of sluggish response to the throttle, rear-wheel brakes, and tyres unable to grip effectively surfaces of wood-blocks. Reverting to blind cross-roads, there used to be three in succession, on the Roman Road by-passing Hereford. Two have since been improved but not the third of these awkward crossings, where the Roman Road emerges onto the A480, with a Police Station, perhaps providentially, opposite. The view to the left is obstructed by a pub wall. To see to the right means nosing out into the path of traffic approaching at a legitimate 40 m.p.h., which a hedge obscures. I wonder how those in charge of very slow vehicles or of long commercial vehicles manage?
At a time when we are constantly being reminded that public spending most be reduced drastically if inflation is to be conquered, I marvel at the number of local authorities who still contrive to construct footpaths, set up street-lighting and new traffic-islands, and to straighten out bends and lop off blind brows, when for decades such improvements have been regarded at unnecessary. When a piece of local road was having a blind brow lopped off, a major piece of road-work, I suggested that if this “hump” was so dangerous, surely it could be safeguarded by one-way control by traffic-lights, which would be far less-expensive to install and maintain than the task of cutting down the hill. The Council to whom I made the suggestion was horrified, reminding me of the serious loss of time to the Nation which such road-delays would cause. Yet this self-same Council has had such traffic-lights in use for years at a one-way Bailey bridge on the busy A483 connecting Llandrindod Wells, the County-town, with Cross Gates and Newtown!
I commented tersely some time ago about a stretch of the A438 road between Tewkesbury and Toddington, which is the direct route to Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford, being closed for rnonths on end and the detour necessitated thereby being of some five miles. This resulted in a reader — there are many advantages in editing this journal! — telling me that the closure was about rebuilding a bridge over a stream but that, as a temporary bridge had been erected, the road wasn’t really closed at all. On my way home from the office that night I made use of this information and saved time, frustration, and petrol. Yet the road retains “Closed” notices at each end and there are additional notices obscuring half its width at intervals. Now it might be that the temporary bridge is unsafe for heavy vehicles, although as it is presumably intended to take contractors’ lorries and traffic from an affluent-looking farm adjacent, I doubt this. It has been used by me and others who have discovered that the road is still negotiable, without mishap. If heavy vehicles are not wanted, a notice to this effect would be all that is required, for no Goods-Vehicles driver in his right mind would risk a temporary bridge so labelled. Perhaps it is thought unsafe for cars to make the turn-off the road, go over the bridge, and then back again. But as there is ample vision in both directions in daytime and at night a car’s lights indicate when someone else is approaching, this hardly seems valid. If it is, Contractors’ traffic-lamps should be used, to render the temporary bridge one-way at a time.
I may seem to be making a fuss about very little; except that anyone having to use this road every work-day in a car doing 20 m.p.g. is spending nearly £3.00 extra on fuel, in making the detour. It has now been in operation for months on end, and from one direction Heavy-Goods Vehicle drivers are told curtly to find their own alternative route. It seems to me that the road authorities responsible are exhibiting a most unfortunate disregard for heavily-taxed vehicle-owners.