Posts Tagged ‘roads’

How To Drive

Monday, September 21st, 2015 | Books

In How To Drive Ben Collins, formerly The Stig, gives you some practical advice on how to drive better, supported by anecdotes of how he used the same techniques at several times faster than you are ever likely to reach.

It is packed with practical information. He discusses some theory, especially on weight transfer, and then elaborates this into techniques for different parts of driving.

He makes the driving instructors cry. Rejecting the 10 and 2 hand position, he advocates 9 and 3. No passing the wheel round – It keeps you balanced and tells you how much steering lock you have one. I’ve been trying it out and it does feel better than my traditional gearstick and 3, if only because I can pretend I am a racing driver.

One of his main points is to take your time. Do not rush changing gear for example. Do it smoothly, rather than quickly.

Is your lane merging? Merging at the last minute is quicker for everyone because it reduces the size of the bottleneck. I already knew that, but it would be nice if everyone else did so that I do not have to feel guilty as I drive past a few queue of early mergers.

He claims that driving on the left hand side of the road is safer. Most people are right eye dominant, so it makes more sense to have this eye in the middle of the road. Hence why we do. Unfortunately, the French ruined it for two thirds of the world.

Controversially, he even challenges the idea that males have more accidents. Men drive more, so when controlled for time on the road, the figures do not suggest women are such safer drivers.

Off the road he even advices on diets. It’s best to drive when a little hungry, and definitely not after a large meal. Plenty to drink as well (non-alcohol drinks of course). Power naps are recommended too – but no more than 10 minutes. If you have half an hour, you go into a sleep cycle and end up feeling worse.

There is a whole section on when things go wrong. For example, if your breaks fail – pump them. Which is basically taking them off and then on again. Invest in good tyres. They stop a lot faster especially in the wet. In Leeds, we’re on the border of it being worth running winter tyres the whole year round.

When it comes to water, the best thing to do is slow down. Serious aquaplaning only happens at over 50mph, so if you are doing below that, you will probably be fine. When it comes to fording rivers, go for a paddle first. Ideally it won’t get over 15cm.

That is quite a random collection of facts I picked up on. Basically I learned to steer like a racing driver and then missed everything else out about better driving. I remember thinking it was useful at the time though.

The book is engaging written. He describes one lorry overtaking another as like turtle sex. Something to have a giggle over next time the bastards are taking up two lanes and you are in a hurry.


On your bike

Friday, April 13th, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

Cyclists on the road have long been a contentious issue for drivers. Many drivers argue that they slow down traffic and don’t pay any road tax. Meanwhile, cyclists argue that not enough care is taken by drivers to maintain safe roads and that they are often the victims of accidents in which they come off much worse.

The issue seems to be that they are very much in limbo. They are road users in many aspects, but then they are also similar to pedestrians in many ways (so in some aspects, pedestrians are road users also).

Traffic lights are a very good example of this. I would say the majority of cyclists I see on the roads, that is to say at least over 50% of them, do not pay attention to traffic lights. They ride straight through them or sometimes mount the pavement in order to avoid them if you would go as far as to describing it as that.

My problem with this is that you can’t expect to be treated as a valid road user, if you’re going to jump red lights.

First of all, it isn’t safe. You can make the argument that it is safe because obviously a cyclist wouldn’t jump a red light when there was someone crossing but if you’re going to make this argument there is no reason why cars should still be restricted to stopping for red lights – after all, we promise to check if there are people on the crossing. Obviously, this would end badly. Why? Because it’s just not safe to let people jump red lights, whoever they are (including emergency vehicles, but there are greater risk of not stopping).

Secondly, it creates a separation between cars and bikes. If we’re going to maintain that cyclists are full road users who deserve just as much respect as drivers, then they need to be held to the same standards as cars and motorbikes – if you say “the law doesn’t apply to me because I don’t have an engine”, you’re unlikely to be granted the respect you are looking for either.

As a society, we need to make the roads safer for cyclists – and that is only going to happen when drivers change their attitude towards cyclists. But, when the majority of cyclists don’t follow the rules of the road, can we really blame drivers for not giving them that respect?


Saturday, January 21st, 2012 | Photos

Audi drivers are definitely the new BMW drivers. There is a parking space literally less than a metre to the right of this shot.

In praise of Leeds City Council

Sunday, January 15th, 2012 | Life, Religion & Politics

Our office car park is located down a side road in Headingley. This makes it difficult to pull out to head into town on an evening as the amount of cars going away from town down Otley Road quickly pile up at the traffic lights.

This shouldn’t be a problem, if people were considerate enough not to stop right across the junction and instead leave a space for those of us that are turning right into the far lane, but often people don’t – sometimes people just block the junction, usually people in Audis (the new car of choice for your garden-variety wanker).

So, on the first of November I wrote to Leeds City Council highways department, asking them to paint a keep clear sign on the road so that people to remind people that occasionally, just occasionally, other people like to use the road as well.

They prompted responded to me saying they would need to investigate and said they would respond by 22 November. They didn’t quite make this, but after a chaser email they responded to me on the 19 December, stating they agreed it was a problem and that they would arrange for a keep clear sign to be placed on the road!

I’m very pleased with the outcome. It might not be world peace, but it just goes to show you that you can bring about change for the better, with a relatively small amount of effort.