A Happy New Year to anybody who stumbles across this blog, whether by accident or by design. In keeping with the tradition of making a New Year resolution only to break it within one week, I submit for your consideration a selection, which might if adopted, make travelling in London less odious.
Most are just plain common sense, but in London these days, anything goes:
THE GOOD: Cab drivers are in the main professional, courteous and, well nearly always right. Anyone who drives in London has had a cab stop for no apparent reason in front of him, and if we protest, the cabbie looks done from his eyrie at you in a smug and self-righteous manner. Equally, cabs are prone to make unexpected u-turns holding up the traffic while the driver completes his manoeuvre sometime without a word of thanks to anyone inconvenienced.
Most cab drivers try to be considerate, it makes no sense for us to damage our vehicles, by careless driving, and it’s our business for God’s sake. So my New Year Resolution will be to thank you profusely for letting me stop, start, pull away, reverse or u-turn near you.
THE BAD: 4×4 drivers. Never I repeat, never give the drivers of these contraptions any consideration. They now have halogen lights to mesmerise you in their presence, just like a cobra with its prey. They approach you and expect you to wait for their next move; the newer ones are now fitted with LED running lights and fog lights to warn the rest of us to get out of their way. If you only keep one resolution this year make it this one.
This is for all of you. Give way means pausing at the line in the road, not with your nose sticking out, its bloody frightening on a bike having a car block your passage (it doesn’t do much for that part of your anatomy either). And that line at traffic lights indicates where you stop behind, not the green coloured tarmac section for bikes.
THE SAD: Pedestrians. Why oh why do you migrate like lemmings near Oxford Street oblivious to the traffic and deep in conversation on your mobile phones? Why stand near a pedestrian crossing often on the zigzags blinking and wondering why the cars don’t stop for you? When you do have the inspired logic to use a pedestrian crossing, wait for the approaching vehicles to stop, don’t walk straight off the pavement expecting that bus to have the stopping power of an F1 car. And why do you have to stand by a pedestrian crossing deep in conversation when you have no intention to cross the road? So just use the grey matter between your ears for once, it might just save your life.
THE MAD: Pizza couriers. These motorised push bikes have the road holding ability of a blancmange. Don’t ride as if you have a death wish, if the pizza is 30 seconds late arriving, tough.
Cyclists. These are some of the most competent of road users, but please, please don’t jump red lights, that boy racer in his dad’s BMW M3 hasn’t seen you, all he is interested in seeing is the green light. And one last comment, pedestrians have right of way on pedestrian crossings, the clue is in the title. I know it’s hard to have to stop once in a while, but your foot will have to touch the tarmac once or twice during your journey home.
AND THE UGLY: As ugly as the back of a bus, is never more true than when one of these 18m monsters pulls out as you are making a feeble attempt to pass it. Just because the Highway Code says we have to give way to you, doesn’t give you the absolute right to move out into traffic at a whim, just use your indicators. And one final comment, when you are ahead of the stated time on the timetable don’t drive at 8 mph.
That’s it then, I know most of this will be ignored, but you know, keep just one of these resolutions this year and moving around London might become enjoyable. Just don’t hold your breath for it to happen. Well, that’s it Happy New Year.
A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 1st January 2010