Saturday, 20 July 2013

If I ruled the world . . .

If I ruled the world,  
Every day would be the first day of spring.  
Every heart would have a new song to sing, and we'd sing of the joy every morning would bring.

Fat chance!   Actually, I'm not at all sure what I would do if by some miracle I were to wake up one morning to find that I ruled the world. I don't know that I would want to do so, anyway.   It would be different if I found, instead, that I ruled England.  Or at least, that I could introduce any law I wanted for England.

I would rule that every bicycle would have to be entered on a central register and each bike owner would have to pay an annual charge to maintain that registration.  Just as we car owners do already.

With a bit of luck, doing that would drive all cyclists off our roads.
There are two things about our roads these days that really wind me up.  One is almost entirely the fault of the local council which seems determined to drive all car owners out of Brighton.  Come to think of it, the same council is largely instrumental in laying on the second thing that winds me up.

The first of these two things is bus stops.  Now, I am a great fan of buses - when I want to go into town.  Otherwise, they just tend to get in the way and block the road.  Especially when they stop to let down or pick up passengers.  This wouldn't be so bad if the council had not intervened a few years ago.  Where we had some nice wide roads, roads wide enough for cars to park both sides and still allow traffic to flow in both directions, buses used to pull in at stops.  This allowed other road users to pass them easily - but that was too much of a good thing for motorists so the council thought up a way of stopping cars.  The pavements at bus stops were extended a few feet into the street, thereby ensuring that buses blocked the traffic as they stopped to pick up or let down passengers.

That's irritating enough, but at least I know that the buses usually - or maybe just sometimes - have a couple of dozen or more passengers.  Bikes, on the other hand, transport only one person at a time.  Buses do manage to speed up between stops.  Bikes, on the other hand, rarely go faster than 10 - 15 miles per hour.  And until the road is perfectly clear of traffic driving towards me, I am stuck behind those ruddy cyclists!  This means that I and a host of other motorists are being delayed (possibly all those passengers on the bus as well) and are discharging more fumes into the atmosphere, buring more fuel and thus aiding global warming (if, indeed, global warming really does exist - which is open to debate).

Our dear council stands accused of aiding and abetting cyclists.  One of the main thoroughfares in the town is the Old Shoreham Road.  Until quite recently, this was the main east-west route but has less traffic since the bypass was built.  All the same, it was and is a busy road.  It helped that the road was just about wide enough to get two lanes of traffic in each direction at all the traffic lights so that vehicles turning right did not block others going straight ahead.  Simple, really.  Until the council decided to "improve" the road by inserting a car-wide cycle lane each side of the road.  This has resulted in queues of cars while the occasional cycle passes them all with ease.  And people boarding buses - or alighting from them - have to cross the cycle lane to do so.  Yes, I know I implied there are few cycles using those lanes but that's not the point.

As a motorist I pay a "road tax" each year of £165.  Some people pay a good deal more as this tax varies according to the emissions each car makes.  But cyclists get to use the roads - for which I am paying! - without having to contribute a bean.  So, if I ever become Prime Minister I will immediately impose a tax of £100 a year on every bike.

Ah well.  Dreaming is tax free.


The French market was in Southwick Square again yesterday morning.  I ignored there please and made all my purchases at Sainsbury's.  Those French stallholders convert their prices from euros to sterling at an exchange rate very advantageous to themselves and then round up their prices a bit further.  A good bit further.

Still, there are some colourful sights.  These are tablecloths.

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