Driving me mad

PUBLISHED: 14:34 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:14 06 May 2010

FOR one blissful morning this week the joy of motoring returned to my life. Like the irrepressible Toad in Wind In The Willows, bowling along the highway was a real pleasure. There was a tantalising taste of what the motoring experience should be like in

FOR one blissful morning this week the joy of motoring returned to my life.

Like the irrepressible Toad in Wind In The Willows, bowling along the highway was a real pleasure.

There was a tantalising taste of what the motoring experience should be like in that gateway to the garden city, Letchworth Gate.

For many long months now, I and my fellow tarmac travellers have suffered on the stretch of hell on earth from Baldock Road to the A1(M).

Sometimes the pain started at the St Paul's Church roundabout where one joined the end of the queue to the faraway motorway.

Other times the road was clear ahead but coming round the first bend one encountered the end of the tail before the longabout.

Whichever the scenario, there was always a long, excruciatingly slow crawl to Junction 9.

For fear of getting snarled up at the first exit off the motorway to Stevenage, I take the parallel route past Jack's Hill and through Graveley.

But that entails taking the road towards Baldock to the roundabout at the start of the wonderful new bypass and turning back on oneself.

And, inevitably, there is a traffic jam.

The cause of this dual misery either side of the motorway is the work going on around and close to the junction in the aftermath of the bypass construction.

Because of this, just a few crucial yards of the approach roads and the junction roundabout were reduced to single carriageway by cones.

That made the world of difference and brought traffic chaos.

On Monday morning, almost miraculously, all the cones were moved over. There were two lanes of traffic and everyone was moving smoothly.

There was no log jam up to the motorway either way.

Wonderful stuff. But the cones were back in place the next morning and the queues were back with a vengeance.

All things must pass, of course, but in the case of Letchworth Gate right now the process is road-ragingly slow.

There's a sign up saying that the works should be finished on Friday next week. With the bank holiday coming up, I can't see it happened by then. But I wait in hope.

Talking about motoring, here's a conundrum. According to a new poll, as many as three-quarters of drivers agree with the ban on mobile phones and think those who transgress should be fined and have penalty points on their licences.

But the same study reveals that more than half of motorists still talk and, even more dangerously, text on their handy devices while on the move.

Someone's not telling the truth here.

But it's not just motorists who can cause problems. The other day I spotted a young lady walking along with a prancing toddler in hand.

In her other hand was a mobile phone at which she was looking down. She did not bother looking behind her before beginning to cross the entrance to a busy car park - just before I was about to drive into it.

I think she carried on blissfully unaware of how close she and the child had come to being involved in an accident.

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