Saturday, 18 September 2010

Who really rushes in the rush hour?

As regular readers of this column may have noticed, I get very irritated about phrases that mean nothing. And I realised at around 8.15 on Wednesday morning in the centre of Bath that there is another annoying cliche I should add to my ‘don’t say that’ hitlist.

The two phrases that irritate me the most at the moment are ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it’ (if so, why bother having the cake in the first place?) and ‘I will give you a taste of your own medicine’ (well, that’s fine because it’s my medicine and why wouldn’t I want to taste it)?
Anyway, to these and many other silly phrase irritants, I would like to add another – ‘rush hour’.

This week, as we know, the vast majority of our school pupils and college students returned to their places of academia. This, inevitably, increased the volume of traffic on our roads but when it is also combined with the gas works taking place on one of the main roads into the city (the A4 from the Wiltshire side of town) it all combined to make the so-called ‘rush hour’ more like ‘might-as-well- be-sitting-in-a-car-park-hour’.

The truth is that over the past six weeks or so all of us who commute either short or longer journeys have been somewhat spoilt. I have long said that Bath doesn’t really have a traffic problem – it just has a school traffic problem. If I’m like many of you, my journey to work in the, ahem, summer ‘rush hour’ has been exactly half what it normally is in the winter. Yes, I know the city traffic is busy at other times but in that crucial hour between say 7.45am and 8.45am the difference between the way the roads move in term time and non-term time is as different as the chaos of say Wayne Rooney’s life to that of, well, anybody’s else's.

The Bath traffic, however, continues to dominate the local agenda. I attended a meeting in the city last Wednesday morning (and yes, I arrived well in time because most of the schools hadn’t yet reopened!) about future transport plans for the region and I was left once more totally convinced that not only does nobody have all the answers to our future transport needs but most people don’t even understand the questions.

The reality of the situation is clear – most of us accept that there are just too many cars on the road and we should all use more public transport but we do so in a totally theoretical way because having complained about the situation, we then jump into the sanctuary of our own private car and lustily switch on the engine.

As I said at my transport meeting (to the odd withering glance) I really want to see traffic in Bath and North East Somerset move quicker and with less stress for all but I can’t help wanting to ensure that it is YOUR car that gives up your space on the road rather than mine. And therein, I’m afraid lies the nub of the issue – many of us want to be part of the solution as long as that solution does not involve us having to give up our car keys.

So, as a dedicated motorist I can’t really complain can I? I guess I will just have to accept life as an A4 car park dweller and do my best to crawl along in the ‘rush hour’.

No comments: