Once again, it’s that time of year when local council road ‘improvements’ conspire against me getting anywhere in a timely fashion. What are they fixing and why do they have to do it all at once? This week, the after school rush to swimming lessons became 40 long minutes of fury, as I found myself driving from one contraflow traffic jam to another, with a car full of shouty children, then nearly ripping off my front tyre in a cavernous pothole that I’d prefer to describe as a trench. I have lots to say about the stress of managing swimming lessons with seven and five year olds, but the journey to and from the pool is usually the easy part.
It is the season of the angry local driver. Evidently, I’m not alone in my ire. You only need to type ‘potholes’ into a browser, to discover a gaggle of websites such as fixmystreet.com and potholes.com, where residents can name and shame the damaged tarmac in their area, up and down the country. Hey, if the internet is good for one thing, it’s for venting small-scale frustrations.
Of course, road conditions deteriorate in winter months. It’s understandable that the pothole problem increases around this time, but sometimes it seems as if the cracks are being left to grow and seethe, while ‘other’ mysterious road works are popping up all over the place.
It’s a double whammy: craggy tyre-busting tarmac on highways that are too congested to bear, due to random repairs of seemingly everything but the craggy tarmac. I hear lots of rumours about council tactics, how they aim to spend allocated funding by the end of the tax year, in order to secure future money – hence the plethora of non-essential work in the run up to April. Surely, however, the impact of multiple road closures and contraflows could be better managed?
I don’t dare to presume any expertise in the subject of town planning. Give me a role on the team and I suspect any high-dudgeon self-righteousness would be hastily replaced by a sense of the impossible. And the inevitable. The fact is someone somewhere will always be affected by some roadwork or other, which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fix roads. I do, however, now have a pathological fear of the swimming run and would like a solemn promise that, in weeks to come, it will be more tolerable.
I could always vote with my feet and make the decision to walk. I like walking. All that fresh air and exercise. Ah wait. Now I remember. The last time I took a stroll with two children and a baby buggy, I was forced to step into a busy main road, because the chunk of pavement that the utility service had dug up, blocked-off and abandoned, gave me no room to manoeuver.
On second thoughts, maybe I’ll just hibernate until the work is complete. Or get an avatar on potholes.com and go wild.