Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Road Traffic Signal Rage

This morning, I came around the bend heading south on the A470 on the daily commute. I arrived at Abercynon roundabout at 6.58 and pulled straight up to the roundabout, there were no other vehicles queueing. Great. The part time traffic signals (traffic lights to normal people) weren't on yet. 7am was still 2 minutes away.

I had to wait for about ten seconds as several cars came around and then I continued on my way merrily, with a happy feeling bordering on euphoria. I arrived at work feeling calm and relaxed and set up nicely for the day.

Now rewind 23 hours and 57 minutes to 7.03 yesterday morning as I approached the same roundabout. On coming out of the final bend in the outside lane, my heart sank as I was greeted by a long queue snaking back towards me and I resigned myself to a long wait before I could get on with my journey.

But then I saw that the still distant traffic lights were green and that the queue was moving steadily, and quite quickly, all things considered. But could I cover the remaining several hundred yards before they changed. I felt a tightness across my chest and breathing didn't seem quite as easy as before. I felt beads of sweat spring from my forehead and my hands began to perspire as they held the steering wheel in a vice-like grip. If I didn't know better I might have mistaken the adrenaline rush for the early symptoms of a myocardial infarction.

I willed the traffic ahead to keep moving, no, to accelerate even. The closer the lights got, the slower everything seemed to move. And then the infernal thing turned amber. There were still about 10 cars between me and the lights.

"Go, go, GOOO!" I shouted so loudly that I'm sure that the driver of the lead car heard me. He put his foot down and rounded the roundabout on two wheels. The car behind did likewise and the third sped through the now red light as if he were in a Meatloaf video. "Gooo. GO!"I screamed, but nobody else went.

So now I'm sitting eight cars back, swearing under my breath at the drivers of what are now the first two cars in the new queue. Why didn't they go through the red light. There's no cameras or police around. They could probably have made it. Perhaps the traffic rounding the roundabout might have had to brake, but so what?

It's now 7.04 as I watch the equivalent of the Amazon river of traffic circumnavigate the roundabout. Hundreds, possibly thousands of vehicles passing before my eyes. 7.05, 7.06, 7.0 bloody 7 and still red as my blood begins to boil. "Change, Effing CHANGE." I bellowed insanely.

At that moment I could have quite happily lynched the person responsible, but I didn't know who she was or where to find her. (Of course it's a woman. Don't tell wife I said that, PLEASE.)

Then the lights changed and relief flooded in. But at least five more cars continued through when their lights were obviously red. "BARSTOOLS, EFFING BARSTOOLS!" I screamed. (Or something similar.)

Then my queue started to move, not exactly slowly, but not exactly quickly either. The first four cars go through and then I'm horrified to see the amber light join its green partner. Car 5 goes through and car 6 tailgates him. The lights go red and I get ready to floor it, sure that car 7 is going through.

"NO!" I croak, unable to scream through my now aching throat as the drongo in front slams on his brakes. I just manage to screech to a halt half an inch from his bumper. To make matters worse, four cars go through in the inside lane after we've stopped.

I can't tell you what I then said, but I think that I constructed the longest ever sentence that contained no nouns, verbs, adverbs, pronouns, adjectives or any word that might be found in the unabridged version of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The next two interminable minutes seemed like a lifetime, but at last I'm on the roundabout. I know that you are not going to believe this, but the light at the first exit was RED. Now I'm stuck in the middle of the roundabout with steam coming out of my ears, inventing new expletives.

When at last I cleared the roundabout I knew that today was not going to be a good day.

Traffic lights on roundabouts! What the....*@*+.........?

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