Back Street Heroes
– NIK WAFFLES ON ABOUT SOME SHI… NO, ACTUALLY, THAT’S RIGHT
It always makes me smile when I re-read the editorial I wrote for the issue before the one you’re currently reading, and see how feckin’ awful I am at predicting the weather. I’m not in Michael ‘don’t worry, there’s no hurricane coming’ Fish’s league of course, but… I blame it on climate change and the way it’s absolutely bolloxed up the weather – everything’s changed over the last ten-plus years, and months that you could, previously, take it as read’d be warm and sunny’re often now cold and damp (I’m writing this mid-August and I’ve seriously contemplated putting me heating on a couple of times so far) and, conversely, months that’ve traditionally been wetter than an otter’s pocket’re often scorchio. These days, it seems, the words ‘Indian Summer’ are the norm rather than the exception, and don’t mean, as I previously thought, eating curry in the garden in July…
On me travels over the last few months, one thing that’s really struck me (figuratively, thankfully, not literally) is how badly ‘road furniture’* on our highways and byways’s situated.
It’s no wonder us lot on two wheels have so many near misses with car drivers pulling out, really, because so many signs, bollards and road dividers’re positioned in such a manner so as to obstruct a driver’s view of what’s coming down the road. It doesn’t matter quite so much when it’s a vehicle with four wheels or more as they’re generally wide enough to be spotted around a badly situated bollard, but us lot on just two ‘oops’re skinny enough to get temporarily hidden behind them and so, unless the driver’s been looking in our direction all along, they’ll pull out as there was nothing there when they looked…
Combine this with the fact that, here in the east definitely, local councils’ve been slow to get hedges and verges cut back this year, and the fact that the roads’re in such poor condition that we spend a lot of our journeys weaving in and out of the many and sundry pot-holes/piss-poor road repairs, and so may duck in and out of a waiting car’s field of vision because of it, means that, these days, maintaining a constant speed along a main road’s not the easiest thing to do, as I’m sure you know.
The problem is, as I see it, that the people who locate these items don’t ride motorcycles and, because we’re THE minority road vehicle (there’re 1.1 million bikes registered in the UK, which sounds a lot, but not when you consider our population is over 68 million, and there’re 32.5 million cars), they don’t think of us when siting them either.
What can we do about this? Well, in the real world, not much really. Some reading this’ll be saying ‘Get MAG on to it, they’ll sort it out!’, and
I’m sure that they would but … MAG do an entirely laudable job in dealing with folk in the higher echelons of government who, when told, would completely agree with us – the problem is that these signs, etc., aren’t put there by folk in the higher echelons of government; they’re put there by contractors, blokes (in the main) like you and me, who just do what they’re told and go home at the end of the day. They just follow instructions given to them by road planners, who also don’t ride motorbikes or think of them, and to change this’d require a complete top-down rethink of policy, and you and me both know that i’n’t going to happen.
So, at the risk of repeating meself yet again, be bloody careful out there, yeah? The standard of driving’s slipped over the years (it must’ve done, they gave me a licence, didn’t they?), and they’ve cut the numbers of Old Bill so much that getting a tug’s such a rarity that it’s no deterrent to piss-poor driving. Sorry to be a bit depressing, but this’s the world we live in now, and putting our fingers in our ears and going ‘la la la’ doesn’t, sadly, work any more.
Anyway, on a lighter note, September looks like it’s going to be a great month for bike events: Stormin’ the Castle, the relaunched Kent Custom Bike Show, the Ace Cafe Reunion, The Trip Out, and many more. Me, I’m looking forward most to the Trip Out… as long as I don’t get feckin’ poisoned by black stuff in a bottle this time! See you next month!