Philobiblon: A clinical diagnosis: West End weekend drivers are crazy

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A clinical diagnosis: West End weekend drivers are crazy

Having just cycled through the West End of London at 5.30pm on a Saturday after the end of daylight saving, I can now provide an official diagnosis: people who drive cars in the area (London's shopping heart) on the weekend are clinically insane (and mostly blind).

I cycle mostly through the city and East End and there, while you have to watch out for the young hoons showing off their hotted-up Hondas, generally drivers in their old jalopies are sane and sedate.

In the West End the cars are about 10 times as expensive, and their drivers display about one tenth of the sense. They have engines that could be going 100 times as fast, so they have to race to the next red light (200m up the road, where they'll wait for two minutes). They have never been introduced to their indicators, or learnt to that some roads have vehicles travelling two ways (so swerving around the speed humps might put them right across your path); indeed the notion that there might be other road users has never entered their tiny little brains.

Of course the size of their brains is demonstrated by their use of cars in the West End at all, the rate of vehicular progress being roughly equivalent to half walking speed. But I guess if you've already spent all that money on proving your anti-social, polluting credentials, you've got to show it off, instead of joining the sensible people on the Tube.

To the "gentleman" in the enormous Mercedes with the car door open across the entire lane down which I was cycling, I'm really sorry I didn't kick it closed - I thought, silly me, that there might be a little old lady arranging herself inside, not that you'd opened it up just for when you found all of your boutique shopping wouldn't fit in the boot.

You'd think these people were beyond treatment. I can, however, offer a prescription. During the week the congestion charge is £8; I'm sure raising it to £80 on weekends, when few people can have a professional need to drive there, (with an exemption for cars transporting disabled persons) would provide a quick and effective cure.

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