Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Traffic Jams

We have been paying some attention, whilst holidaying here in lovely Gozo, to the many and various ways the M5 south through Somerset can find to get itself closed. Caravans overturn weekly throughout the summer but there do seem to have been some vehicle fires and load spillages adding to what we call normal in the south-west. This allows the rest of the country to describe it as holiday chaos even more readily than usual.

I have often joked about Gozitan drivers. What does a give-way sign mean? Nothing. What should you conclude if a vehicle is indicating right? Nothing. What does a pedestrian crossing signify? Nothing. How big a gap can a tower crane driver negotiate in the rush hour? 0.001mm as long as you pull your wing mirrors in quickly. In effect that means less than nothing until you increase it.

You don't let vehicles out, they barge in. The person who chickens should not offer a friendly wave but a resignation of defeat.

So, from time to time (and I am pretty brave now) I stop for another car to come through a gap only to be overtaken by a vehicle behind me unprepared to wait and then taking six times as long to pass the other car as it would have taken my car using my scheme.

On Monday the ultimate consequence of this took place. Our rented farmhouse is at the residential end of a narrow street and the road winds on down behind us in a single track with sharp bends and passing places. We were sitting by the pool reading when the level of noise from the street outside grew steadily. After a while we took to the flat roof (a common feature in such properties) to observe. There were two queues of traffic stretching for 400 yards in both directions and in the middle two vehicles bonnet to bonnet, almost touching. Alongside one of these two was a taxi, pulled in to the side of the road.

We surmise that the taxi had pulled over (and if a taxi driver chickens here you know there is a reason, they never blink) and the vehicle behind had overtaken only to be confronted by another car head on with no room to pass. None of the vehicles who arrived at the developing queue, clearly visible from Space after a while, left any space for others to reverse or manoeuvre. After a few minutes people were on their phones calling friends and telling them to avoid the scene.

In the midst of this George, a local taxi driver we know, shouted from the road that he was here to take us to the ferry. Our reply 'We're here another week' was probably taken as a comment on the likelihood of a car ever getting away rather than the truth that he was here a week early.

And then, after much gesticulating and shouting (no violence here) someone found a spare millimetre and one line of traffic made it past the other and within five minutes all was quiet and still once again. We later discovered that the road had been closed in one direction during this time apart from access for residents and businesses but every car had decided it was there to 'render a service' and had ignored the restriction.

Nailsea car-parking is a breeze folks. A breeze.

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