Speed. What gives? Yesterday morning I rode to school with my daughter. As we prepared to turn right toward the school, Lewis Hamilton – not actually Lewis Hamilton of course, but somebody who thinks he’s blessed with the skills, good looks and motor handling skills of the F1 World Champ. He isn’t – roared toward the corner of the quite cul-de-sac in his flame red Audi and spewed whatever profanities his window protected us from hearing, in our direction. The source of his ire? Spotting me pointing up the road and saying to Evelyn ‘Careful love, this guy is flying’. Apparently it’s not cool to look after your 9 year old from chumps.
As his face contorted into gargoyle snarliness, I raised an eyebrow, gave him a non-plussed look, rode past and shrugged my shoulders. He stopped his car in a ‘what-you-gonna-make-of-it’ kind of way as toddler clutching parents, pushed infant laden prams against the aspect of the hill. He sat there revving his car. I carried on and dropped Evelyn off at the gate. He lost interest or realised he was looking like a prat (or both) and drove off with a throaty roar.
Now I’m a big lad, not easily intimidated – water off a duck’s back frankly – but I find it sad and worrying that there’s a Neanderthal with an Audi A3 keen to give it licks close to a school and think its ok. As I cycled back home, collected the car, went past the school again – oh the irony – and headed to the M4, I started to clock all those cars that were keen for some extra seconds. There were lots. Cars racing for the lights, sprinting to overtake, launching at the roundabout etc. etc. But I also noticed what little difference it made to their travel time. On the M4 a car hammered past me only to whack on the anchors behind a wall of cars moving at 70 (a quite visible line of traffic from where I was sitting). On the A467 a BMW powered past only to be the next car in front at the roundabout. A Range Rover sprinted up the road only to be swiftly halted at a traffic calming measure. The occurrences were too numerous to recount.
The sad reality for the F1 wannabes is that speed is an illusion, a fleeting fantasy, especially so in an urban environment. It’s the stuff of ad men and top gear, a fib sold off the back of a lie, ‘the motor is king!’ Speaking as someone who does move quickly, I’ll give them the secret if they’re willing to lend an ear. Best to give it up, slow it down or better still, ditch the motor, get on the bike and pretty much nail your travel times to the mast.
Image via The-Manu, Deviant Art.