If you’re wondering what this has to do with my “Giving Up” series of posts, read on as far as the PS.
My journey to and from work is just over 30 miles each way and takes me through the M1 motorway widening scheme between Junction 25 and 26 that has been going on for over a year. Co-incidentally, I started my current job just over a year ago, soon after the roadworks started.
Over the year that I have been trundling through these roadworks, I have been impressed to observe the progress of the work. It seems that, although there have been periods with little obvious change, that the visible stuff seems to happen very suddenly.
For most of the period of the work, there have been 3 lanes, albeit narrow ones, so normal traffic is relatively unaffected by this massive project.
I am resigned to the 50mph speed limit, enforced as it is, by more cameras than are owned by the BBC and my commuting life is mostly fairly stable and predictable.
I have worked out that if I leave home early enough, I can miss the worst of the traffic on the motorway by getting through before about 7:30am. This also means that I can usually leave work somewhere around 4:00 to 4:30pm and get through before the evening rush.
The journey normally takes me between 45 and 55 minutes.
However, just occasionally, (actually, it’s every few weeks) the journey turns into an 100 minute plus crawl. Almost always, this is because of an accident or breakdown, usually in the outside lane in the roadworks section. Of course, this also ans that my journey has then coincided with a few hundred, or even thousand, rush-hour drivers.
Tonight was one of those occasions. Even before I had passed East Midlands Airport, we parked up and began the five-mile per hour crawl, I realised that there was another one, even though I was five or six miles away from the start of the roadworks, I knew what had happened.
Sure enough, three-quarters of an hour later, the orange flashing lights of the Highways Agency Traffic Officer Service vehicle hove into view.
Immediately after passing the coned off area of less than 100 yards, motorway traffic started to speed up to heady 50 mph and soon after, I passed a flat-bed breakdown truck with a dented car loaded on the back.
OK, I know that very few people deliberately bump their car into something that causes expensive dents, but I sometimes wonder if the traffic gods wait until just before rush hour starts to arrange these accidents simply to ensure that the maximum possible number of us are late home for dinner.
And how come these accidents are always on the way home? I have never been delayed on the trip to work, only on the journey back.
My eldest son works in the wonderfully named field of “Traffic Management”. It has occurred to me that if I experience lots of accidents in roadworks, he must see hundreds of them. It suddenly brings home to me that he must have one of most dangerous jobs there are.
For his sake, for the sake of my hot dinner and for everyone who takes to the roads,
PS. I turned down a sugary flapjack today. And I know it’s neither a cake nor a biscuit.