4/6/09

The #1 thing I don't miss!

TRAFFIC!

This was the view from my car most days of the week, as I fought my way to work on some of the busiest stretches of road in Europe!

For 8 years I used to circumnavigate the 'official' busiest 20 miles of motorway in Europe, the M25 between the M4 and M1. I was reminded of this yesterday during a chat with one of my bestfriends back home. She informed me that she was stuck stationary on this very stretch at 5am in the morning for over 2 hours. It took me back and made me thankful for the empty roads where I am now!

The 6 years before I moved here, I made the trek up the M1 (Britains oldest motorway, hence M1) daily from Watford to Bedford. It was a 55 mile journey door to door and if I left home no later than 6:05am I could make it in about an hour. But if I left after 6:30am it could take me anything from 90 minutes to nearly 2 hours.

My journey home was similar and some nights I would just have to leave the motorway and take back roads it was so bad. I remember that whenever it rained (which is often), it was a nightmare with all the spray and there were often accidents. Friday nights were my worst journey of the week and it was quite common for it to take me 3 hours to do those 55 miles. I would often work late (7pm or later) or stop to shop somewhere, just to avoid sitting in traffic pointlessly.

I don't think the Hubster really appreciated just how bad the traffic is back home, until he was there and we traveled around the country. As well as the sheer volume, he found it nervewracking that we drive at times up to 85mph (yep I'm a speedy bird!) in traffic, with just a few feet between the vehicles all around you. Driving in England you automatically drive on motorways watching the car 6 or so vehicles in front of you, so you have time to react. He is a good, confident driver who likes to drive, but he wasn't the least bit interested in driving over there!

Because most journeys you make involve traffic, British drivers have a tendency to be more aggressive and get wound up easily, road rage is common. This is a habit I am very slowly losing, but I will often nag the Hubster when he gives way to someone or I think he's dawdling!

Here it's a whole different world out in the country. Empty roads for miles, you can believe your GPS when it tells you your arrival time, and using traffic as an excuse for being late (a fave of mine) is not an option!

I used to make my trek to work listening to Sarah Kennedy on Radio 2 in the mornings. Now I occasionally email her and I have had 3 mentions from her since I left, sending my best to friends, family and my former fellow traffic sitters on the M1! If I need cheering up, I will just listen to her show online and smirk when the traffic reports come on.

I have yet to see traffic on the same scale in Okieland, even in T-Town and OKC in the rush hour, it just does not compare! They may have daily rush hour heavy traffic, but they don't have it for 20+ miles bumper to bumper daily, crawling at 10-30mph!

Now I have a blissful 6.7 mile journey to work and I make it in about 7 minutes, you just can't beat it.

32 comments:

Kay said...

I thought Hawaii traffic was the pits but it looks like England has us beat by far. We avoid rush hour like the plague. We schedule all our appointments between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Three hours on the motorway sounds awful! Wow! I'm glad you're enjoying Oklahoma.

SweetPeaSurry said...

After having lived in Dallas and in New York city, and while the traffic in THOSE two locations cannot compare to that in GB, I understand your newfound love for empty roads.

Right now I'm working overnights and in about 3 and 1/2 hours I'll be heading home, at about 7am. I always find it odd that there's nearly as much traffic driving away from downtown as there is driving INTO downtown in the morning. Where do all these people go?

Flea said...

I do NOT miss Orlando traffic. Tulsa has nothing on other major cities. If you ever really miss your traffic from home, head to Atlanta or DC. It'll take you back.

I truly love Oklahoma roads. Well, Oklahoma drivers. They're friendly and obliging. The roads? Not so much.

Troy said...

Here in rural Suffolk we don't even have any Motorways. A lot of the roads between the villages are just wide enough for one car with passing places. I find them more stressful than major roads.

By the way our major routes are numbered A1, A2, A3 etc. clockwise out of London. Then others A10, A11 etc are to the right of those major routes [Then A7, A8 and A9 out from Edinburgh] The M numbers were given to the new motorways closest to the major A routes. First motorway opened was at Preston (M6). Here endeth today's lesson.

Esther Garvi said...

Traffic entraps me. Coming from the bush, I can spend brief moments in traffic but I can't live like that. Kano in Nigeria is our closest metropolis (and unlike GB, the traffic there is not organised!) and although I enjoy going there occasionally, I am always grateful to be going back! :-)

Silverback said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Silverback said...

I found great relief from British traffic back in 2001 - it was called retirement at 49 and I can strongly recommend it !!

Since then I can fit journeys around rush time traffic and doing that, saves my sanity and also allows me to travel our backroads and actually enjoy the glorious countryside - countryside I really missed when in Florida all winter.

I know I don't miss the stress of our traffic and this is from someone who never had to make that M25 journey.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, that looks awful.
I worked in Houstona and Dallas for years before moving to Oklahoma and I've lived in Oklahoma City and now Tulsa. I have yet to see what I would call "heavy traffic" in either city on any day after 22 years. If the traffic is moving, it is not heavy.

Sherri said...

I'm glad you finally have traffic free roads! When we lived in NJ and would go to NYC, the traffic was horrible!! Charlotte, NC where we live now has times of really horrendous traffic too but not exactly where I live.

The Prodigal Tourist said...

Traffic around Washington is pretty awful--seeing photos like yours always makes me grateful that we're able to work from home.

Ronnica said...

I used to think traffic in OKC was bad until I moved to NC...but England sounds even worse!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Hate traffic! Since living in Northumberland I don't see much apart from the lorries on the A1. I often get stuck in it though going down to visit my mum in Manchester.

CJ xx

Peggy said...

I thought Chicago Traffic was bad. Been to New York and La also...your homeland is worse I think.

I have been to England, but thankfully I didn't run into traffic like this. We were in St Astel(sp) and the two lane highways were so narrow we scratched the paint on our rental car on a narrow turn!

pamokc said...

Girl, I have to tell you that I thought the M25 was a much longer road than it really is (mixed verbs, I know) ... we spent so much time on the M25 that I didn't realize we had only gone about 7 miles. Crazy ridiculous. John's commute was Tring to Hatfield via every back road he could find. However, having gotten off onto the back roads in the UK, let's just say charming villages and pubs and really ... there's the real England, eh/

Snippety Gibbet said...

Looks like the DC beltway near my house....which I am thankful to be able to avoid 95% of the time. I had NO IDEA roads in the UK looked like too. Duh.

Sassy Britches said...

My dear, this was the number one reason I moved back home from Chicago in 2003. I was becoming someone I didn't recognize! I had to drive, not only TO work, but FOR work! So, I was navigating the Chicago highways all day, every day. Shoot me.

The result of moving back home is the lovely, mild-mannered, cordial Sassy Britches you see today. ;P

Bella Foxx said...

Traffic is one reason I take the train to work. My drive is only 3 miles. My commute is 60.

Daryl said...

Someday you must drive on the Long Island Expressway .. fondly known as the world's longest parking lot ...

Rob Inukshuk said...

Oh yes indeedy - traffic here in Toronto is kids play compared to what I used to deal with in London.

I do not miss it.

Mare said...

I hate traffic. When I moved from NJ[ big traffic area] to the country in NY,[hardly any traffic]it was such a pleasant change both in commute change as well as the scenery. I could never get used to traffic on a daily basis again. How stressful, and expensive, too.

random muse said...

I have been reading you for months now, and I just had to note you on this. I live in Tulsa, and this just made me think that I should count the positives before complaining about traffic...it's really not THAT bad here! :) Thanks for the reminder!

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Yuck on that traffic. Glad you're getting to live the small town life. :) ~~Dee

Elizabeth Bradley said...

We used to live in a suburb of Los Angeles, and three years ago we moved way, way out to the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains. I can scoot around to every store and whatnot without getting on the freeway. There is one main boulevard running through town and, as long as I avoid the twenty minutes after the high school lets out, I will not be in traffic. Traffic is something I willingly drive into less and less often. Only for special occasions these days. I am glad you don't have to make your tedious drive any longer.

Kat said...

Thankfully I live in a rural part of England. I don't think I could EVER handle driving in London. I have just got to the point where I am pretty confident around here.

Kimberly Miller said...

When I lived in the bay area in California, it took me almost an hour and a half to get home on freeway 280. That was about 18 years ago and they had 4 lanes each way. The thing I could never understand was, looking way up ahead, WHY were they going so slow? Was there some idiot up there getting out of his car? I just never got why it ever slowed down in the first place other than the obvious fact that most people around there had no freaking idea how to merge. LOL. I love your story and your pics.
Best,
Kimberly
www.kimberleekreations.blogspot.com/

Lover of Life said...

Way too much time can be spent in traffic, that's for sure. We have all the summer tourists coming soon - they can snarl things up a bit. Otherwise not much traffic here.

Winifred said...

The M25 features just about every day on the BBC traffic news so I sympathise must have been awful. Luckily I only live a few miles from where I worked and so rarely ever hit traffic.

It's the motorways that are choc a bloc and it's mainly due to the volume of goods vehicles now on the roads. It's hard to believe how many are coming in from Europe every day. Maybe the recession will help reduce the traffic!

Give me a plane any day, much safer.

Yummy Mammy said...

Come here Mrs, let me tell you about Dublin traffic. My morning run to school and then on to work is 6 miles. It takes me on average 90, yes 90, minutes!! And then the same going home at night. That same one way trip in no traffic would take me under 10 minutes. Oh and people can not drive here at all. Until recently you could drive without a full license, yep, just get in the car with a provisional and off you go. Needless to say, I hate roundabouts here!!!

Star said...

You can almost see my English house from that picture. I live in Luton, which is about half way between Watford and Bedford. As you know, anything north of Watford is considered Up North, but it isn't really, is it LOL I'm now in Knoxville, enjoying the busy Hiways here!
Blessings, Star

Gaelyn said...

That looks and sounds awful. Growing up near Chicago I worked a job 15 miles from home and carpooled for over an hour some days. I haven't lived with that in many years, thank God.

butlersabroad said...

Ah, traffic. Something I don't miss either. Last April I was in England, my first visit home in four years, normally I would have shared all the driving with my husband, but this time I couldn't get my head around it all. I was so freaked out on a country road that I drove into a hedge trying to give an oncoming car enough room! I didn't drive any more after that!!

That is the chicken said...

I absolutely don't miss this either! You reminded me how alwful it was! Thankyou! I can renew my appreciation for life over here all over again seeing those photos.