Nottingham was absolutely gridlocked this evening. Traffic has been bad for much of the last two years because of the ongoing tram works that seem to have dug up every road in the city all at once, but tonight was even worse than usual. Apparently there were several accidents around town around rush hour, and it served to bring all of the arterial routes through town to a grinding halt.
As a cyclist, I'm usually fairly oblivious to this stuff. People tend to assume that people who commute to work on their bikes will be unbearably smug every time the traffic is bad. Perhaps many are (I assume many drivers are also pretty smug when they drive past a cyclist slogging through the wind and rain of a winter storm). To be honest, traffic congestion quickly became completely irrelevant to me. It takes me around 16-17 minutes to cycle from work to home, depending on the two traffic lights that I have to go through. Almost all of my route is on cycle paths and the volume of traffic has basically no bearing on me at all. I'd maybe love to be one of those guys who waves at stationary cars as they sail past, but I'm far too busy thinking about what I'm having for my tea.
This evening though, it was pretty hard to miss the congestion, even when I was still sitting at my desk. My office is based on a large industrial site with a couple of main gates out into Nottingham, one at either end. There are several thousand people onsite who drive to work, and the roads out of the site are often completely blocked when all of those people leave work at about the same time and then queue down to the roundabouts that drop people onto the main road. When something happens around the ringroad, this has a knock-on effect back up these access roads and onto site. On a bad day this can mean that people will queue for hours to even get off-site, never mind getting home. Tonight, people were leaving their desks for their cars and then coming back half an hour later when they hadn't even got out of the car park. Many glared at me slightly resentfully because they knew I was a cyclist and could leave at any time I wanted.
Perhaps I could and should have been smugger, but as I was still hard at work at my desk at half-past six having arrived this morning before 8am, I didn't really feel that I had all that much to be smug about..... and when I did finally finish up and head out on my bike just before seven, the huge queue of idling cars meant that the air quality on my ride home was appalling.
Mind you, judging from my Facebook feed, some of my colleagues were still queuing to get home in the time that I'd left the office at 7pm, cycled home, changed, nipped out for a quick 5km run and then showered.... so I probably shouldn't grumble.
I like cycling generally, but tonight it was really handy. I'm not smug, car-driving friends, I just got home an awful lot faster than you did this evening. Perhaps we should take a leaf from Nigel Farage's book and blame all this congestion on the increasing number of immigrants?