There’s A Hole In The Road, Please Can We Keep It?

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Hannah reflects on the disruption that a burst water main near home has caused, and hopes it continues.

There’s a hole in the road where I live. Not your average pothole, but quite a substantial chasm. In the way of things in small towns where nothing much happens, it’s sparked a lot of excitement, and even become a bit of a local meme as photoshop fans suggest causes for the Great Void Of ‘Royd.

The actual cause of the hole was pretty spectacular, as was the chaos as morning traffic was diverted along the only two lane road between the upper and lower ends of our steep sided valley. Schools closed as the water was switched off, and parents who had been delighted just the day before to finally ship their kids off to school were given a cruel snow-day-in-September.

There were a few happy people (apart from the kids, who were very happy) among the chaos – those on bikes, who could swan happily around the queues of people trapped in their cars. There are few greater pleasures in a cycle commuter’s life than beating the traffic, especially when you can wave at them as you pass.

Much to the relief of parents, schools reopened the next day, although the road did not. And that is the point of this story.

Instead of riding to school with my kids and having to push along the pavements when we got to the A-road, we carried on, riding along the main road and all the way to school. No traffic to mow us down – hurrah! And where the diversion had caused a log jam of cars and lorries in all the wrong places, we squeezed through narrow gaps and rode merrily (and a bit smugly) on our way.

But, that’s just us – we’re regular riders and us getting to ride a bit more of our journey is not the headline story here. The big thing was everyone else.

Yay, an excuse for a bike ride.

I saw other people on bikes – not the usual couple of regulars I see every day, but new people getting clapped out hybrids off the top of their cars to complete the journey to the other side of the road block. People on bikes looking a bit wobbly, but still rolling along. I even saw one woman on what was definitely her kid’s bike. And there were walkers too.

From the train station, a whole train load of high school children swarmed out and along the pavement. Along the canal, from side streets, along the cycle path, more children emerged, putting one foot in front of the other. Walking, chatting, breathing, laughing. Hundreds of them, all emerging from the shelter of their parents’ cars to make the trip to school independently, healthily, with their friends.

To the credit of the local high school, there were teachers and staff – including even the Head Teacher – positioned at various potentially difficult crossing points, to make sure the anticipated hoards of kids got themselves to school in one piece. How easy it would have been to say ‘the school buses aren’t running, the staff can’t drive to work, we’re closed again’. Instead, everyone embraced the opportunity to try out a bit of the ‘active travel’ which public health officials here in the UK try so desperately but unsuccessfully to encourage.

The Head told me that lots of kids had described it as ‘an adventure’, and some had even said ‘can we do this every day?’.

Yes, yes you can. We all can.

There’s a hole in the road. I hope it takes a long while to fix it.

It came from below…

Hannah Dobson

Hannah came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. Having worked in policy and project management roles at the Scottish Parliament and in local government, Hannah had organisational skills that SIngletrack needed. She also likes bikes, and likes to write.

Hannah likes all bikes, but especially unusual ones. If it’s a bit odd, or a bit niche, or made of metal, she’s probably going to get excited. If it gets her down some steep stuff, all the better. She’ll give most things a go once, she tries not to say no to anything on a bike, unless she really thinks it’s going to hurt. She’s pretty good with steri-strips.

More than bikes, Hannah likes what bikes do. She thinks that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments.

Hannah tries to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

Comments (4)

    Who knew that from “chaos” such good things would happen?

    “Who knew that from “chaos” such good things would happen?”
    Well that is Donald Trump’s philosophy…
    Nice story Hannah, we have major road chaos around our town at the moment and it is VERY hard not to look too smug as you say “Delay’s? No, didn’t have any.”

    It’s reopening today sadly. Mind you, not everyone can get the train to work or bike to the shops – it’s just that there a huge number of people in the UK who don’t, that could… 😉

    I do wish the local area would get its act together and promote a bit of sustainable travel off the back of the ongoing road drama in the valley. It could be great for cycling and walking.

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