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.
Scenes in Mytholmroyd earlier pic.twitter.com/XFJMeVpIIG
— Gagarin Studio (@Gagarin_Studio) September 5, 2018
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.
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.