Friday 30 October 2015

Zombie Nation

As Jim climbed into his car, he shivered as he thought to himself "the paper shop is only down the road, but it is too cold to walk". Jane was running late as usual. She yelled at the kids to put their seat belts on. She tutted to herself as she saw Jim pull away, "why doesn't he walk to the paper shop, it's only round the corner" she grumbled. 5 minutes later, she pulled up on the 'school keep clear' zig-zags before shooing the kids out of the car into school.

Raj finally got fed up with sitting in the daily traffic jam, stuck there because just down the road parents would be dropping off the kids at the school. "Bollocks to this" he thought and so he overtook the queue on the wrong side of the road before swerving off down a side road, just missing a person crossing, "bloody zombie pedestrians, never look where they are going" he muttered as he slowed down behind the queue of people who had done the same thing as him. Sam shouted after the car which nearly hit her as she crossed the side road, "what were you thinking being on the wrong side of the road!"

John had to step on the brake sharply as the car came towards him, "didn't he see me for goodness sake, I'll have a passenger complain about my driving; I am sure that guy using the wheelchair at the last bus stop will have something to say because I didn't stop, but I just couldn't get into the kerb because of that idiot parked there to go into the shop" he groaned. 

Bill looked up from his book as the bus lurched, now stuck in the middle of the junction "this flipping bus journey gets worse and worse, stuck in this blasted traffic every day. Why can't they just rephase the traffic lights at this stupid junction", he thought. 

Emily was already late for college and rather than ambling along her normal route by the canal, she decided to take the direct route which involves a diagonal crossing at Campbell junction, "six green men to cross, I would have been better off by the canal after all", she groaned as she dodged a bus which was blocking the crossing. 

Yannis was arguing with a bloke on a bike, "I have a delivery to make and I can't go round the corner", "but you are not only blocking the cycle lane, just look at the traffic jam you have caused back through the lights" countered Paul. "It's not my fault", said Yannis," I have to make this drop now, otherwise I won't make by next one on the other side of town". Jess smiled as she weaved through the traffic thinking "why is he arguing with that van driver, he stops there every morning". SMASH. Jim hadn't seen the cyclist as he opened his door.

Yes friends, it's the run up to Halloween and this is my little hat-tip to the season, but this is not a nightmare. It is far worse then that. This is real life and is found daily in many of our towns and cities where we lurch on in a stupor worthy of a character from the brain of George Romero; unable to comprehend that there are better ways to run our local transport networks. Yes, the Zombie Apocalypse is here, we are the zombies and this is our very own Zombie Nation. They're us. We're them and they're us.


  1. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. All the excuses blown away in one go.

  2. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. All the excuses blown away in one go.

  3. Nice stories, sums up the UK traffic "system" well. I noticed a huge drop in traffic congestion during half term last week, it's concerning really. A lot of staff and pupils must be going to school in cars.

  4. I think parents taking the week off makes a big difference too

  5. My anecdote is that as I am normally in work by 8ish, traffic still lighter in school holidays and so there must be an effect of parents/ carers being on holiday and so cannot all be placed on kids being driven. I also find Fridays to be noticeably quieter more generally which could be an effect of people working from home perhaps.

  6. I think what you've also illustrated is that everyone thinks that the problems are caused by someone else, not by they themselves. "I'm a responsible driver, but those other people, well..."

  7. yeah it's all true, but aren't you making it a bit too easy to knock your characters? Sure, driving to the paper shop is lazy, but there are people (I'm not one of them) who can only do the school/nursery/breakfast club run and get to work if they do part of it by car (no excuse for the zig zags) and having previously driven in peak hour London I can't believe many people do it who believe they have an alternative. no-one seems to have an answer to this except making driving even harder until drivers stop - which works, but makes life a misery for those people. I'm not having a pop, I'm genuinely interested in whether there are any carrots out there and whether anyone has evidence on why people drive in peak hours - and what is the solution to deliveries? I guess anyone who can answer those question is probably already running the world, but what are your thoughts?

    1. Fair points indeed. Of course Jim may not be able to walk to the paper shop as it is too far for him to walk because of his mobility and it is so easy to pass judgement; especially when you consider your own journey as being more important which I think Jane may be thinking.

      When my first two kids were small, they went to nursery and I drove them before going on to work and they were often picked up by relatives. My employer had flexi-hours which enabled it all to be fitted in. Why drive in my case? Well, we liked the nursery, there was nothing immediately local and we both worked with my wife having to get the train - I drove to work and so I did the run.

      I would say that there is choice in having children and this choice generates car trips. The wider story is lack of local child care and the whole issue of schools (especially primary) getting bigger (as local authorities are banned from building new schools), having larger catchments and walking and cycling to them being awful.

      I would imagine most people hating driving in town at peak times, but the employer flexibility, lack of child care and lack of walking/ cycling infrastructure all play against local active travel.

    2. 'the choice of having children generates car use' - never a truer word. my learning to drive coincided with having kids after 40 years in London never feeling I needed to drive. now..... in my dreams electric minibuses pick up peoples kids and half the peak hour cars disappear, but I dare say there's a flaw in that and anyway there's no money for it

    3. Someone recently said that the half-term quiet roads in Cambridge was only a reduction of 8% traffic!