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Claire Black: The roads feel adversarial, as though it’s everyone for themselves

IT’S so predictable, isn’t it? The city dweller heads off to the remote countryside (Ardnamurchan in this case) and has an epiphany. Everything on the wild west coast is just a bit better than in the wilds of, ahem, Leith.

The golden eagles circle in the sky (city equivalent: huge seagulls that can open a fish and chip box with one well-placed stab of the beak), seals pop their noses out of the swirling Atlantic (city equivalent: a Staffie taking a dip in the Water o’ Leith) and the drivers wave to each other as they negotiate winding single-track roads (city equivalent: yup, that’s right, we don’t have one).

You read that right: I said waving. No vickies, no clenched fists, no expletives mouthed into the rear view mirror. Nothing. Just a wave, or maybe a nod and sometimes even a smile.

Partly it’s because locals probably know most of the people they’re waving at. I was on the peninsula for three days and I waved at a couple that I’d met up a hill, at a woman who I know makes delicious hot cross buns, and at Stevie the Joiner – it says it on his van – at least four times. But it’s also because single-track roads necessitate good, or certainly better, behaviour. Suddenly you realise the implications of sharing the road with people that you almost know rather than people who only exist to annoy you.

Since I came a cropper off my bike months ago, I’ve hardly been back on two wheels. I don’t feel safe enough. The roads feel adversarial, as though it’s everyone for themselves as we race to get to wherever it is we’re going. We don’t share the Tarmac, we compete on it. Buses with cars, taxis with vans and all of the aforementioned with bikes.

Four cyclists have died in Edinburgh in 12 months. And so a summit was called and a campaign has been launched to change the speed limit to 20mph on residential streets and to 30mph on main urban streets. I hope the Scottish Government backs it. I hope local authorities do too.

I know there’ll be naysayers. It’s all very well imagining people will do the right thing behind the wheel and think about other road users and pedestrians as if they’re real people whose lives are precious, but take a look at rush hour: that’s not what happens. A lower speed limit might bring back to mind that it should.

IN THE morass of economic information that pours from the Budget and resultant related gum-beating, there’s always something that sticks out. If you’re a smoker, I’ll guess that the something is 37p-shaped.

The thing I couldn’t help but clock was the prediction that at some point in the not too distant future, if things keep on the way they are, most of us will probably have to work until we’re 80.

Just imagine me poking at the keys on my computer 43 years from now writing this column. It’s unconscionable.

SO EDINBURGH is to receive a huge wad of cash for super high-speed broadband. Wow, I guess that means I’ll be able to zoom in and see the actual texture of the fabric of the clothes I’m buying that I don’t really need much faster than I could before. Great.

I’ll console myself with this thought every time I get the whirling wheel of destiny in the middle of Homeland that means I have to carry my laptop to the modem in the other room and reintroduce them by way of an ethernet cable. Roll on 2015.

» Last week Claire... finally admitted to herself that she quite enjoys watching Embarrassing Bodies. I do. Sorry, but I do.

 

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