Guest post: riding through the road works


This week Jonathan Newby lets us know how it’s been dodging the road works near his office…


“Having survived another week on the roads, I’m trying to make sense of why some days the traffic on roads is relatively quiet and benign and on others it’s like riding through a war-zone.  There are obvious factors as to why the roads are busier on some days than others – schools being back, the weather …etc – but this doesn’t quiet account for the ‘mood’ of the traffic. The traffic can be light and still aggressive and heavy and yet respectful. 




Last Thursday was a particularly bad day. I was cut up twice on Sloane Square, once by a taxi and again by large 4×4 who just wasn’t looking. Then as I turned in Brompton Road from Beauchamp Place, another taxi swerved towards me. Added to that, there seemed to be no end of motorbikes buzzing around and a general feeling of impatience.  And yet, yesterday morning, in all the bluster of the high-winds everyone seemed very polite and road-friendly.


The other day a colleague asked me if I’d had any near misses-since riding the Brompton, and actually I can’t say that I have … but I’ve come close to losing my temper a few times. On the whole you have to be a bit more careful when getting cross on a bike.  The difference with being an angry car driver and angry cyclist is that in a car your swearing and profanities are usually sound-proofed and only observable by gestures; on a bike if you lose-it and start shouting against the injustice the particular manoeuvre of a larger vehicles you are audible to the world. Not great when there a small children being dropped off at school.




Of course road works don’t help the general mood of London commuters – cyclists or motorists. And there’s one set of road works that I can’t wait to be finished.  Anyone who’s walked down Exhibition Road over the last 2 years will know what a minefield it has been at times.  Well, there’s still plenty of work to do it seems, but the project to part-pedestrianise and entirely re-surface the whole of Exhibition Road, from South Kensington tube station all the way up to Hyde Park is nearly done and they are actually scheduled to finish around November I think.  This is not a day too soon for my liking as the works going on immediately outside my office window are driving me to distraction – angle grinding paving bricks, pneumatic drilling and general hammering, and the dust that seems to get everywhere.  It’s all for a good cause I know, and it will look amazing when it’s done, but it has taken such a long time to complete. And with a boulevard-wide expanse of pavement and much fewer cars it will be an absolute delight for cyclists.”

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