January 2nd, 2019
Some *very rough* notes on something I intend to write about public transport, cars, bicycles, pedestrian crossings and my admiration for brave Lollipop Ladies :
Up until nearly two years ago I had been a resident in south Manchester for about seven years. I resided in old Fallowfield for about three years, followed by a near five-year stint no more than a few streets away from Whitworth Park, Moss Side, ‘The Curry Mile’, Manchester Royal Infirmary and the University of Manchester, part of an area referred to most locals and students as Rusholme.
Being a resident of South Manchester, I took advantage of very cheap bus services when too lazy to walk the short couple of miles to city centre, or wanting to get to places such as Didsbury in a hurry.
In the latter years of living in Rusholme, a lot of work on the roads occurred and kerb-protected green cycle lanes were introduced especially on the main roads where I was a pedestrian or a commuter (Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road mainly).
I regularly nearly got run down by cyclists, who were too cool to have bells on their bicycle handlebars on a few occasions, until I reprogrammed my mind to be more careful.
My criticism is mainly of the town planners and some bus drivers, and the few cyclists who prefer to shout and swear rather than civilly ringing a bell.
I used to go on monthly bus ride to the Medical Centre I was registered at, I would hop on a bus for one English pound, and hop off after half a dozen or so stops.
Not much drama to speak of until the narrow green cycle roads were introduced.
If the Busses stopped in their designated areas (not as simple as it sounds, there seemed to be more busses people at times, all vying for bus stop space that only catered for no more than two, sometimes three busses) there wasn’t much of a problem.
If the busses stopped just before or after the bus stop, it was generally a safe step or two to the safety of the pavement. Sometimes one had to contend with a cycle lane purgatory before reaching footpath heaven.
If the bus drivers stop in the non-designated areas, a certain kind of problem was high in frequency. When one stepped off the bus they would be walking directly into the cycle lane, and more often than not into the path of a loud mouthed bell-less cyclist. In a quite well populated area of badly educated students and fast food tourists, when one hears someone shouting of the rude and profane kind, it is a common occurrence, so hearing expletives in my ear upon leaving the bus, I didn’t assume the impatient frustration were being directed at myself.
Interestingly with a simple ringing of a non-aggressive bell I am almost certain that I would have looked to my left straight away. I am guessing that the lycra-racer brigade do not have bells on their handlebars for aerodynamic reasons. The riders that didn’t dress like a tour de France wannabes were generally more polite, and it wasn’t unusual to hear them ring their bells.
This was an annoyance more than anything, for everyone involved.
I no longer live in Manchester.
I live somewhere within the outskirts of Wilmslow – if it wasn’t for all the bypasses, A-roads, terrible public transport and lack of decent walking routes for pedestrians and the inability of a seemingly increasing number of motorists who seem to not understand the highway code, and the drug dealer graffiti on fences, on stretches of footpaths free from the sight, but certainly not the sound of burning rubber – It would be an ideal quiet area that I would be happy to live for the rest of my days.
My office job is a four mile walk away from where I live and for a few months I have been mainly going to and from work on foot.
Certain pedestrian crossings are unavoidable. In fact, if town planners of recent decades have payed much mind to the pedestrian I would be very surprised.
There are two zebra crossings I have to tackle, one in Handforth and the other in Cheadle Hulme which cause me to get quite animated at times. Anyone who is familiar with a zebra crossing will know that the legal contract between motorist (also cyclist) and pedestrian is very simple. If the pedestrian looks right, left and right again and sees that there is plenty of space for traffic to stop, the pedestrian will start walking across the black and white painted area of road, safe in the knowledge that motorists and cyclist will stop.
The problem is, an alarming number of motorists refuse to comply with this simple law of the highways anymore.
In the last month alone I can clearly remember *dozens* of occasions where drivers just keep driving, expecting the pedestrian to run across the road or make backwards step back onto the pavement from whence they came. I have stared into the faces of many of these drivers and some are women, some are men, some are old, some are middle aged, some are young. It seems that this behaviour is rampant all across the spectrum of diversity.
There are a few pelican crossings I use that increasingly boil my blood every day. There is one that highlights another problem quite acutely.
One of those rare crossings where pressing the button results in the traffic lights changing almost instantly. The lights go from green to amber, and theoretically cars slow down to a halt behind a clearly painted thick white line on the road. What occurs more times than not is that the motorist takes the amber light as licence to accelerate and ignore the rules of the highway.
A couple of months ago I was at a temporary pelican crossing on a quadruple laned exit to a large roundabout. The lights changed to amber and the cars in the first three lanes stopped as they should. The amber light was a split second away from being red and it appeared safe to cross. I had barely taken half a step into the road when I witnessed a car in the fourth lane accelerating towards the stop line, I completed my first step into the first lane and paused, then the driver had a change of mind and abruptly stopped the car just over the line, a few fractions of a second later and a car of the tailgating variety did not have sufficient distance to stop without playing bumper cars with the sudden stopper, it was a very minor shunt, but it must have been embarrassing and inconvenient for the impatient drivers.
I crossed the road and didn’t look back…