I would really like to reduce my own personal carbon footprint. One of the quickest wins for me would be to use my car less and, ideally, I’d like to be able to cycle into work every day. Whether I’m fit enough to travel the 7.5 miles on pedal power is a whole other issue!
I live in a small town in Wiltshire. In order to get to work (in the next town) I need to cross over a motorway junction. Fine in a car. Bloody scary on a pushbike. It’s a mile and a half from my house to the junction along a fairly busy, single carriage, road. So, I load the bike into my car, cross over the junction, park in an industrial estate and cycle to work from there (about 6 miles or so). Not ideal – I’d rather cycle all the way there, so one Sunday I thought I’d attempt to cycle along said busy road to see how it was on a “quiet” day.
Now I’m not the world’s most confident (or competent) cyclist, but I can stick fairly close to the side of the road but after less than half a mile of pedalling, the thought “bugger this for a game of soldiers” sprang to mind. I decided that, in this case, discretion was the better part of valour. I stopped at the side of the road (mainly to get my heart rate back down to a non-cardiac-arrest level) and got my silly ass back home and never to try cycling on that road again. Well, not until the Council finally creates a cycle path. If they ever do anything more than talk about it.
A couple of weeks later I thought I’d have a little mooch on foot along that road and up to the roundabout and hopefully up into town as there are grass verges all the way along and paths around the roundabout. That was another another illusion shattered. The verges have been cut. Unfortunately the cut grass has been left in situ and trying to walk along them is like trying to walk through mud: the grass sticks to your feet and tries to pull you in. Plus, you have no idea what the ground surface is like underneath the cover of cut grass and I nearly came a cropper a couple of times in potholes (see previous blog post about breaking wrist – potholes are not my favourite things). Add to that the fact that some of the bushes at the side of the road are so overgrown that they overhang the verges and as a pedestrian you have little alternative but to walk on the road and around them (unless you have a penchant for having your face scratched off) and you have a recipe for a less than relaxing pootle.
When I finally got to the roundabout (some 40 minutes later – it should have taken less than 30) I thought “this’ll be fine – I’ve seen pavements around the roundabout”. Or did I? Right enough, there is some pavement, but it’s not all the way around the roundabout and not on the side that I want to walk on. So I have to walk the long way around. Dodging the traffic isn’t so hard as there are traffic lights on the junctions. But there aren’t any grass verges. Especially where there also aren’t any bloody pavements. I got two thirds of the way around the roundabout, only to find that I had to pick my way through a litter-strewn piece of waste ground. To say that I was in high dudgeon by the time I got to the other side of the roundabout would be an understatement.
So. In short. If I want to go into town, I have to risk my wellbeing by picking my way (the wrong way) round the roundabout. Or I have to drive. Or I have to pay to get the bus. £2 to get 2 miles. Just so I’m safe enough to carry on my journey on foot. How ridiculous is that?