On The Road
MOTORING is more than the motor car; the journeys undertaken can be interesting too. I sometimes ponder on whether London has become the slowest city in the civilised World, when inching along the congestion of the A40 towards Oxford on my runs home from the office, and it would be interesting to have views on this, perhaps, or about which race circuit is the least amenable when it comes to getting out of the car-parks after a big meeting. (onversely, which is the World’s speediest city from the traffic-gem point of view and which race circuit has the best parking and access/exit facilities for visitors?
Keeping one’s eyes alert for unusual roadside features is becoming ever less rewarding, now that old villages and the smaller towns are forever being by-passed. However, thanks to a miler, I spent some time the other Sunday, before going to Shelsley Walsh, photographing with some difficulty a notice recalling a motor accident on a bend not far from Stanford Bridge, on what is now the B4203 (see Letters from Readers). The notice, which has been revealed because of some hedge trinuning, is obviously very old and the picture may not be good enough to reproduce, and the reason for it isn’t known to me. Another notice that smacks of the past was seen in Builth Wells, trading simply “Motor Garage”. Nothing remains of what I assume must have been early automobile premises, basis Llandrindod Wells, not faraway, the Automobile Palace’s premises have not been altered much since pre-WW1 times, even tons engraved indication that they were once agents for aeroplanes. . . .
Several tirnes recently 1 have had to delve from Stratford-on-Avon towards Leamington — sorry, Royal Leamington Spa, although that doesn’t make it any shorter to negotiate — for Daventry and places beyond. Doing this journey, I had been puzzled as to why on the way I could by-pass Warwick town by turning right at a roundabout just before entering it, sign posted Leamington, but that coming back I was projected into Warwick and through its famous arch. Returning from Coventry on August Bank Holiday Saturday, the reason became plain. As you reach the T-junction Stratford is sign posted in the two directions, which I hadn’t spotted previously. Turn right, and you go through the somewhat congested Warwick outskirts, providing you filter left before the town proper. Turn left at the aforesaid T-junction, and you have a nice fast road ahead of you. However, perhaps to avoid taking traffic through a bad bend in a village, the authorities who sign post our roads do not give you a right turn for Stratford at the Belford turning, but take you further on, when if you are lucky you may see the sign you want, and can turn right if you have got safely into the right-hand lane for making the turn across the dual carriageway. But if you read “Birmingham and Coventry” and panic, driving straight on will land you much further south, in Banbury. But it’s good for the petrol companies. . . As is the 41/4-mile detour that has been in operation between Tewkesbury and Stow, because the B438 has been closed on this piece of road, for far too long.
TWO NOTICES which have attracted W.B.’s attention in recent months.
The complexity of modern life is astonishing! I see in America they are considering raising their speed limits, which have always seemed ridiculously low for big modern automobiles on long straight highways. But apparently the idea is to . let only the smaller-engined, more fuel-economical cars enjoy the relaxed speed restrictions. How do the Cops tell? By giving those smaller autos permitted to do a daytime 70 m.p.h. instead of 55 m.p.h. dayglo number-plates. To qualify for these the cars must average 42 m.p.g. by US standards. If a one will do only 36 Imp. m.p.g., they mustn’t exceed 60 m.p.h. More special number plates! It seems about as unworkable as the muddle our Transport Minister has got himself into over his changed licence-disc proposals. Americans may also be lifting more than an eyebrow over the fact that whereas the speed limit for a heavy truck is 45 m.p.h. their inter-city ‘buses are permitted to bowl along at 70 m.p.h. And that in 15 years, time the USA will be looking foes fuel economy from its cars representing 96 Imp. m.p.g. — W.B. I thought I had heard somewhere that overtaking other vehicles on the near-side, except when their drivers are exhibiting a right-turn signal, is officially frowned upon. Yet many drivers and most motorcyclists disregard this, especially in town traffic. This leads mete apiece where rushing past other vehicles on the near-side at up to 70 m.p.h. is allowed. It happens when you are going west (no pun intended) off the M5 and want to join the M50 to Ross-on-Wye. The usual “Get-in-lane” notices are displayed but as there is no run-off onto the M50 from M5, only a sharp left-hand curve, for a considerable distance cars on both Motorways are running side-by-side, as it were, and presumably if you are in the I.h. lane at 70 m.p.h. it is permissible to go past those doing, say, 60 m.p.h. on the inside lane of the M5, which has become she middle lane of the M5/M50. In some ways the M50 has been unfortunate. Some time ago a milk-truck collided with an overbridgc, knocking this onto the Motorway, which had to be closed for a while. And it seems unkind that those tuming off the M5 at the aforesaid junction do so a mere mile from
the next restaurant and service station; as far as I know, if you continue axis there is no way back on to the M50. Then, leaving this M50 at the turn-off for Ledbury and Hereford, the right-turn onto and over the Motorway bridge is dangerously “blind” in both directions, in my humble opinion.
The Highway Code tells us a lot about giving correct signals, either electrically or by hand, before changing direction with our vehicles. But apparently tractors from which it is impossible to signal by hand and which are unequipped with “flashers”, am not illegal on the public highway, judging by those signs “Tractors — No Hand Signals” that go up on the busy Ledbury-Hereford run when hop-picking is in progress! — W.B.