Volume of cars, not the roadworks, is the problem
IT would be easy for Derby motorists to convince themselves that they are undergoing unprecedented misery at the moment.
It's not much fun, certainly, battling through the roadworks currently suffocating the city, particularly in the morning and late-afternoon (sadly misnamed) rush hours.
Reporter Chris Jones gives his impression of the challenges and frustrations today on Page 10.
However, there is not a city in the land which is not regularly afflicted by irritating congestion.
In lots of places, the problem is not even roadworks, merely the sheer volume of traffic.
Therein lies the biggest problem, far beyond the wit of any highways department to remedy.
Count up how many households in your street have only one car.
Compare that with the situation 25 years ago, when two cars per house was far less common.
And hardly any vehicles seem to be garaged these days. Garages are now, apparently, for tools, playrooms and tumble dryers.
So, even if these vehicles are not going anywhere, the chances are they will be sitting on the road, adding to the congestion on through routes.
Councils are on a hiding to nothing when it comes to roadworks.
When two or more sets of them are taking place simultaneously, motorists are up in arms.
Yet two months ago, when Derbyshire County Council suggested changing its policy on repairing potholes, giving less urgency to some roads, that drew criticism too.
If drivers suffer vehicle damage which they blame on potholes, they make threatening noises about suing the local authority.
These councils just can't win.
The city might argue that roadworks should be staggered. But then they will be with us for even longer.
Bus lanes – another good idea which works well in reducing vehicle volumes in many other cities. But do you recall the frothing at the mouth which followed their introduction in Kedleston Road and Duffield Road?
Many drivers are affronted by the idea they might have to make any sacrifice to their personal convenience for the greater good.
Encouraging more people to abandon their cars and clamber on their bicycles is another worthwhile notion.
But it will need a properly co-ordinated network of cycle routes across the city – and that loss of road space would also be certain to cause resentment.
Chris throws in the thought that, on foot, he could have covered his distance in a fifth of the time.
That's not an option for commuters from outside the city.
But it is food for thought for those who could walk at an undemanding pace to their place of work in, say, less than 45 minutes.
What benefits, to the traffic count and to personal fitness, that would bring...