Viewing entries posted in February 2015


Posted by on 2 February 2015 | 0 Comments

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Size Matters

A few weeks ago, I decided that I would save money by buying a little Ka for short journeys instead of using the 4x4 when not towing the caravan.  Having driven large cars for the last 25 years, if not more, it came as a bit of a shock to be looking up at the wheels of the 4x4 as I reversed off the drive.  So, first gear engaged, I set off onto the streets of Leicestershire, heading for the city, and the market.

I hadn't gone very far when I discovered that little Ka's are invisible to white vans at roundabouts.  Amazing! If I'd been in the 4x4 they would have had enough respect to stay in the correct lane, but as I am now so tiny and vulnerable it seems that white van can ignore all lane discipline and simply cut from the inside lane to turn off at the second exit in front of me.  Still, being so tiny, I was able to pull hard left, keeping my bumbers intact - just.  That got me thinking - does size matter?  And if so, is large the only way to go?  I've been watching ever since.

One of the leviathans of the road has to be the bus.  Whether it is a single or double decker really doesn't matter, they have their very own lanes and heaven help anyone who happens to be level with them when they come to the end of a bus lane.  To be fair, it is not difficult to understand why they have to pull out and if you read the road, it is very obvious where the lane ends.  So, white van, what were you doing? Trying to overtake the bus in much the way you did me?  What a good job the bus driver has huge mirrors and made good use of them - or perhaps white van did not notice. It does seem to bear out the idea that the big vehicle has right of way.

It's not just the other drivers that cause problems for the bus, though.  Look at the beast - it can't bend, so one end or the other is going to stick out as it changes direction - and that includes pulling into a bus stop.  Why do so many pedestrians walk straight into that area where they can be hit by the wing mirrors as the front of the bus overhangs the pavement when it pulls in.  Have a little patience, you can't get on the bus until the driver opens the doors, and s/he won't do that until the bus stops.  Stand back, show the driver the respect s/he deserves for handling so large a vehicle safely, and wait to be invited to hop on.

Cyclists can't claim the moral high ground either.  How often have you seen someone on a bike, legitimately sharing the bus lane, cycling up on the inside of a bus which is already indicating either to pull into the bus stop, or even to turn left?  Yes, the bus driver has big wing mirrors, but the profile of a cyclist is not large and the most dangerous place to be is on the inside of any large vehicle. Surely, the realalistic rule of the road must be have respect for others and take care for your own safety - don't take silly risks.

I have to say that either side of articulated lorries (or rigid ones for that matter) is one place that my little Ka just does not go.  I prefer to hang back for the few seconds it takes for the lorry to negotiate the turn or the roundabout - especially the mini-roundabouts that seem to spring up at every junction these days.  Try sitting in the driver's seat and looking into his mirrors and you will see just how vulnerable small cars (including sports cars), motorbikes and bicycles really are.  Not to put too fine a point on the situation - we are virtually invisible.  Again the rule must be if you can see it, avoid it, because if you are tiny, you just might be invisible.

So, where does the little Ka really score, apart from things like fuel consumption, road tax and insurance?  On a car park.  It is genuinely fun to park and not have to worry about finding somewhere wide enough to swing the bonnet round, or shuffling into a gap only to find the boot is sticking out.  I really should apologise to the 4x4 who followed me into the multi-storey car park.  I should have let you have the use of the two empty spaces next to each other, instead of just jumping into a space the way only the little Ka's can do.

The morale of these tales must simply be RESPECT.  We need respect for each other on the road, whether walking, cycling, motor-biking, or driving cars, buses or lorries.  We need to make ourselves visible to others - turn the lights on, wear reflective clothing, and stop taking chances.  Better to be a few minutes late in this world than many years early in the next.



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