email mark@rosher.net

Urban Motorcycling

Most will be aware that we moved out of Bristol in 2001 to the relative countryside of Charfield, in part to escape the increasing traffic problems in the city. That wasn’t the only reason, of course, and there were things like better school catchment (which certainly appears to have been a good move, heh) and access to open space. And because frankly we are country mice now, we don’t tend to go back into the city very much, and certainly I tend not to ride my motorbike there.

Recently I’ve been riding in to Southmead Hospital (Who on Earth builds a new hospital; in the middle of a residential zone in the city?!). The car parking at Southmead even with the new multi-storey car park is dreadfully inadequate and rather costly, while the motorcycle parking is free and plentiful. And on nice days it’s a lovely ride rather than a slog of a drive.

Riding in the city is a very different experience to my normal M-, A-, and B-road bimbles. Aside from the obvious “necessary journey” over “recreational jolly” I’m dealing with a whole different spectrum of road users.

I have been gobsmacked by the number of drivers still using their mobile phones while driving! Twice this week I’ve had to beep the car in front because the driver is typing into his phone and the traffic light’s gone green for some time. Once a car veered into the ongoing traffic lane while the driver was scrolling through his mobile screen. And so many drivers are still driving phone in ear, nattering away. Now, I had hands-free in my cars for years and while I don’t any longer have my own car I have hands-free on my bike. It’s not hard. But texting?!

Driving in serious congestion is of course a slow and laborious activity, and Morrigan is a fat girl who needs a bit of space for filtering. I am chuffed at the number of car drivers who will pull to one side in standing traffic, so that the bikes can filter through, but there are a few folk who actively do the other ting, trying to halt anyone else journey if theirs is blocked. Meh and bollocks to you.

The thing that caused me to put fingers to keyboard though was the amount of wacky-baccy that I get to “enjoy” while riding in Bristol. I ride open face, and so am liable to the fug of cigarette smoke (and the occasional tossed fag end!) from cars ahead of me. But gosh, I think I’ve passive smoked more cannabis and skunk this week than in all my years of teenage rebellion! Are that many Brizzle drivers zoned out behind the wheel? Did I just get a randomly high (heh, pun intended) sample in my half dozen rush hour rides?

I don’t have a major problem with low-level recreational drug use. I am partial to a good whiskey and addicted to coffee and I’m sure they’re equally as bad for one as cannabis. But perhaps I wasn’t fully conscious of the situation out there, which has resonances of the days when folk had large liquid lunches and then drove back to the office. Or sometimes into it.

Your comments, criticism and outright venom is welcome. Ok, the venom probably won’t get published. 😉

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