Nigel Thornton: Misery on Peterborough roads

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -
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It has been a terrible summer on the roads around Peterborough with death and chaos seemingly occurring on a weekly basis.

The A1, A14, A15 and A47 have all been the scene of some terrible accidents .

Most of us, often on a daily basis, travel these roads and are literally putting our lives in the hands of our fellow motorists.

Many road safety experts tell us roads don’t cause accidents, it’s the drivers. That is true to a point but it is ridiculous to suggest that some roads are not more dangerous than others.

One of the causes of bad driving is bad decisions provoked by frustration. This is particularly relevant on roads such as the A14 where heavy traffic and delays lead to irritation.

A survey out recently by an insurance company named Peterborough as one of the worst road rage cities in the country. City drivers, the survey claims experience a road rage incident – either as victim or rager – every 14 minutes of driving, or every six miles.

Which, if true, means if you drove every day from Glinton to the city centre you would be involved in a road rage incident every single time you made that journey.

That seems barely believeable and perhaps the survey should be taken with a pinch of salt, but even so you don’t have to drive for long to come across a Mr (or Mrs) Angry behind the wheel.

The consequences of bad driving are clear to us all, but changing our behaviour seems an almost impossible task.

Many of the most serious accidents involve lorries and while it would be wrong to single out HGV drivers this may be an area where legislation could reduce frustration and therefore accidents on the roads.

I had the misfortune to drive on the A605 the other day. This is another of the area’s notorious roads – lots of traffic including many lorries, slowed down by hills, with precious few places to safely overtake.

If you set out to design a road intended to frustrate motorists you couldn’t do better (worse) than the A605.

On my recent journey I was tailgated in heavy traffic for much of the way by a lorry driver who was not exactly a”knight of the road’’.

Then on the journey home I witnessed the classic manoeuvre. A long stream of traffic had built up behind two lorries. On reaching a stretch of (uphill) dual carriageway, the second lorry immediately pulled out to overtake. Travelling at least half a mile faster than the other lorry he completed his overtaking just before the dual carriageway ended at the brow of the hill.

Two car drivers foolishly then overtook the lorry crossing white hatching to make it. That was a bad decision, that was bad driving but thankfully this time there was no bad consequence.

The lorry driver – while not breaking any law – was clearly not blameless.

Why not just ban lorries from overtaking on roads such as the A605?

Incidentally, the lorry was emblazoned with the livery of one of the big supermarkets. I won’t say which one but just let’s say I’ve found one more reason not to use the A605.Council.

Keep it a secret

Peterborough City Council is the fourth worst in the country for breaches of confidential information. You might think this would lead to them being collectively shame-faced, but it seems not. A spokesman (I could name them but I don’t want to breach confidentiality) said: “The vast majority of breaches are very low in the terms of the number of people affected, which illustrates how effective how reporting is.’’

Well done, city council. Let’s hope you pick up an award for “most effective reporting of cock-ups’’ and also one for “most unconvincing response’’.

Sound advice

Those nice people from Nene Park Trust tweeted a reminder to cyclists in Ferry Meadows to use their bells.

Sound advice (ho, ho) but likely, I’m afraid, to fall on deaf ears. As someone who cycles around there quite often (and I ring my bell more than a cheeky kid on Mischief Night) I’m dismayed at the number of cyclists that don’t even have a bell, let alone use it.

Many of them are the so-called serious cyclists. Forget the lycra and the 10-speed gears chaps, we’d all be more impressed (and safer) if you could just get a bell and ring it.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Toddler T is showing disturbing signs of developing a multi-ple personality. Hopefully, this is nothing more than a vivid imagination and perhaps a future career as an actress.

One of her favourite, er, characters is Mummy Elsa the face painting lady, which I guess is a combination of her two favourite people in the world – mummy, who needs no introduction, and Princess Elsa from Frozen (we’ll ignore the face painting lady, whoever she is).

I often call Toddler T “darling’’ but woe betide if I do it if she’s in character. “I’m not darling,’’ she says indignantly (often with hands on her hip), “I’m Mummy Elsa.’’

Then there’s Goo Goo, who is a baby. I think she invented this character in response to her little brother, who is a real baby. Me and Mrs T quite like Goo Goo, who although can’t do anything for herself (she’s a baby!) is not the strong-willed strident three-nager that is the real Toddler T.

Unfortunately, Toddler T wasn’t fully in character as Goo Goo on Saturday lunchtime while I was trying to watch the football on Sky Sports. She refused to go down for a nap.

Still I can look forward a few years to when I can palm her off/let her live her dreams with the Key Youth Theatre.