I heard on the radio recently, on the subject of middle-lane doddering, the following: “It’s a common complaint: if I’m in the inside lane, no one will let me out. And I find the outside lane intimidating.”
You know, for a moment, I had some sympathy. I know it can be hard to get out between the trucks, and all those LED daylight running lights on Audis can be very imposing. I suppose that’s the point of them.
Then I remembered that, whether people like it or not, keeping lane discipline is part of the obligation that comes with holding a driving licence. It’s not optional. You can’t get a pilot’s licence and then decide that flying at 5000 feet is too scary, so you’re going to go everywhere at 300. That’s just not how it works. If you can’t follow the rules, they don’t let you do it.
And although I’ve read and heard people dismiss ‘middling’ as no big deal, I disagree. If those who refuse to keep left are holding up those who would like to get past, they’re taking time from them, and there is no greater sin than that.
Ultimately, that’s at the root of all angst on the roads, isn’t it? Needlessly losing time? Time is one of the most valuable things any of us has.
I feel a significant rise in grumpiness when sitting in front of a red light on an otherwise empty roundabout. Waiting for nothing, for no one, while I emit CO2 and impotent rage because some numpty has decided that a roundabout – a brilliant invention that negates the requirement for traffic lights except in unusual circumstances where some entry points are far, far busier than others – needs to be rendered pointless and ineffective by a series of light bulbs all night long, when there’s hardly anyone around.
I don’t think I know of any roundabout where the traffic lights could not be made at least part time or, in most cases, removed entirely.
Sitting waiting for them, while nothing else happens, is leeching time that is rightly ours, and it’s criminal. They say time is money, but they’re wrong; it’s much more precious than that.