Today was a big driving day. Not the biggest to date but still many miles under the wheels of this Skoda. We are off to Derby after our days in Penrith. The drive reinforced many of my thoughts about UK roads and drivers.
UK drivers are, generally, very civilised. The organisation of UK roads is remarkable. It needs to be to cope with such complex traffic.
But!!! It just works.
UK drivers seem to have an innate way of managing the congestion. Motorway traffic seems to have its own organic flow. It is like a choreographed dance unfolding in front of me as I hug the middle lane. I worry I’ll end up trapped not fast enough or too fast for where I am.
When I watch how it works though, it is delightful. Everyone hugs the left lane most of the time. When they need to pass they drift out to another lane. Then they duck back again.
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I watched a Porsche this afternoon. It joined the flow of traffic on the left. It merged without problem, as almost everyone does. It came in behind a truck on the inside lane. Lane 2 had another truck passing the first. I was in lane three at about 70 miles an hour. An Audi TT, doing probably 80 MPH was passing me. The Porsche entered the flow of traffic. It passed through all 4 lanes and into lane 5. In a moment it was at maybe 90 MPH. It passed the Audi and fell back into lane 4. I was no threat so lane 3 was clear. Then to the two trucks. After no time at all he settled into lane 1. There he sat till he needed to pass the next truck. But he did that gliding from lane to lane. And he was just one of hundreds working like that.
In Scotland, the fastest cars so often seemed to be Audis. Any Audi at all. Further south in the Lakes district we saw more Range Rovers. At any time a speedy vehicle may be a BMW or Mercedes. The only Rolls I have seen was being driven by a bunch of Hip Hop looking guys. The were cruising to be noticed. Speed was not a thing for them at all.
There are so many tiny cars. So many that we never see in Australia.
I need to mention the roundabouts. When you look at them on a map you just tremble in fear. How can you possible negotiate 3 consecutive roundabouts where each one may have 5 in and out?
It works. It just works.
Yes It is easier for me because my sister is sitting next to me calling everything I need to notice. It helps that Siri is calling out the same thing all along the way.
They work because the roundabouts are marked to guide you to the correct lane. Watch the road for the numbers you want. Pick that lane and stay in it. It will usually spiral out to the exit you want. Just confirming what Siri told you anyway.
We have an Australian Siri of course so she is calling Km. All the road signs are in miles. But it works. We talk back and forth in Miles and Km without a second thought. Well we do now after 2 weeks at it.
UK drivers are generally easy to work with. It is so clogged that they usually let you in as you need. I was trapped in the wrong lane in a long line of vehicles. Indicators on and the VW in front slips an extra few cm (sorry inches) forward. The massive transit van next to me slows ever so slightly. And there it is, a Skoda sized gap I can drift into.
Roadworks are everywhere. Last weekend the A66 was under roadworks where we needed to be. The road was closed. Just shut! Our hotelier told us not to go near. She was caught the day before. She became totally lost and was an hour late to get her kids from school.
And she lives here!
We followed direction through a tiny village. Enter the village and discover that the diversion, for roadworks, is under roadworks. Roadworks on one side of the road and residents parked on the other side. And all the traffic in both directions from the major roadworks A66. No one to guide or direct. We managed. Everyone managed cos that is how it is. Drivers make room and drive over kerbs and help out. A Ferrari came towards us and just would not fit. So the cars in my lane all climbed the footpath so he would not scratch his paint work.
After we got through we saw what was on its way to the congestion. A fleet of 20 army trucks and 5 tour busses.
They could all still be there.