The outside of a motorbike engine seen up close near the exhaust

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Rush Hour Traffic

Blog Date - 06 April 2018

For the past 6 years although I've been self employed I've had regular work in Runcorn, 3 days a week. This meant a minimum 25 mile commute each way. I got tired of the "best" and "shortest" routes so I varied the journey making my usual trip between 27 and 40 miles. 

Luckily the company works shifts which means the factory is always open and I was allowed to start late and finish late to avoid rush hour. With a 1030 start time I'd usually leave home around 0845, catching the tail end of the rush hour. Finishing at 1900 I'd also miss the tea time chaos.

A line of cars with trucks approaching on a busy day near Loch LomondFiltering is not always a good idea you know.

Change is a fact of life. I have just started a new job "cards in" with a small IT company just 4 miles from where I live. I now have a "yoof" showing me a whole new way of programming - what makes this particularly annoying is he's very good at it and my head is befuddled. I'll get the hang of it. Eventually. Hopefully. Yikes!

Thing is I'm working normal hours which means a comparatively short ride to work in the rush hour. Instead of taking 1 and a quarter hours my commute can be done in 15 minutes despite the traffic. That said I'm already planning different routes, it's just not worth starting the bike otherwise. 

Hundreds of bicycles in racks at a country park in The NetherlandsMaybe...maybe I need to use my bicycle?

What is coming as a shock is just how aggressive the traffic is at this time of day. I guess I'm used to dealing with people who've already started work and are not in a rush. These rush hour types seem to think their pants are on fire and speed limits only apply after 0900. 

There's a 30mph zone between traffic lights. I get up to 30 with an Audi practically pushing me. It then whizzes by, engine revving and the lady driver gesticulating some rudeness at me. She is promptly followed by a Nissan Micra but this driver keeps her hands on the wheel. Of course at the next set of lights I meander past them. 

At the busy roundabout I'm turning right. There's little point filtering as vehicles are switching lanes and ducking into spaces. I wait in line quite calmly. I've left 45 minutes for the journey so there's no rush and I'll have time for a brew when I get there. However success for my plan depends on the desperate van driver turning right from the left lane not taking me out. He's very upset that the car behind me doesn't let him in either.

A rusty old tractor on a French street used for putting boats into the sea
I think I might get that vintage tractor I've always wanted and use that for commuting.

I have to accept the rest of the world is not like me. I like to set off in good time. I like to think if there's a problem I have enough leeway to work around it. I like to relax on my bike. I like to be calm. If I'm early to work I don't see this as a disaster but an opportunity to make a brew, chill out and surf the net for a while before cracking on. 

I presume lots of people set out late. I suppose that causes them great stress. I expect they're desperate to not be late and upset the boss (again). Personally I would find this way of life distressing. Yes - I can be late and I have been but it's a rare thing rather than a regular thing.

Gorgeous sunset over the sea with Ren outlined against the orange sky

I've done rush hour traffic before, I'm just out of practice. I'll get used to it. Just like I'll get used to this new way of programming. Eventually. Hopefully. Yikes!

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Reader's Comments

Bob said :-
I cycle to work 10 miles each way in rush hour traffic - things can get ugly.
Sometimes I use a motorcycle and I tend to favour the XR125 over the XCountry because when I'm on the XCountry in traffic I tend to get progressively more and more aggressive and naughty (fun at the time but I'm always remorsefull afterwards).
I'd give the push-iron a try, I like being able to use cycle ways and cut throughs and very occasionally pavements if there's no other way.

9/4/2018 2:36:26 PM UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Been there, done that Bob, in fact I cycle commuted for about 20 years on and off. It was the off bit that was the problem though, as in getting knocked off, which happened to me at least once a year. The older I get, the more mortal I feel, and having ridden my luke (see what I did there?) for all those years I decided to pack it in. You only have to be unlucky once.

In the end I packed it in 18 months ago though strangely the incident that finally caused the decision to stop was a near miss. A white van sped onto an island I was already half way round, missing me by inches. The van and the three yobbo occupants then went to the trouble of following me off the island, slowing down and hurling a load of verbal abuse at me. Enough is enough. Over the years, I've been spat at out of car windows numerous times, had cans of drink thrown at me, been deliberately driven at and forced off the road and even on one occasion had a firework thrown at me. Verbal abuse was an almost daily occurrence. Perhaps this kind of behavior is limited to Birmingham, but sadly, I doubt it.

Commuting by motorcycle is in comparison a relaxing stroll in the park.

9/4/2018 3:19:33 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I would definitely NOT take the pushbike on the road at rush hour around here. It'd be suicidal. I can however mostly off-road and proper cycle lane a good portion of the trip save for about a half mile stretch I would walk(ish...).

The problem is there's nowhere to put a dirty bike that's been across a dirt track - yet. I'm hoping to get friendly with the maintenance guy and see if I can stow the push iron in his little cupboard.
9/4/2018 4:54:16 PM UTC
Bob said :-
I've had a couple of clips but never been knocked off.
I think CrazyFrog it sounds a lot worse in Birmingham than it does round here, I've never experienced anything like that level of abuse.
I do employ defensive riding techniques, positioning myself to prevent drivers carving me up on the approach to mini roundabouts for instance.

10/4/2018 8:13:29 AM UTC

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