Patience is a virtue on the road

One thing about being a British road user is that it teaches you patience. Well, it’s either you learn to be patient, or you become really quite angry and irritable. I was dropping my bike off at Beeline this morning to re-fit a power meter. It took a long time to drive the one mile during rush hour; it’s so much slower than cycling. I realised now why I never drive in Oxford, unless I can avoid it. It takes considerable patience to drive the one mile down Cowley Road. The problem is that most of the roads around here were not designed for two rows of parked cars and heavy traffic.

waiting-narrow-road-parked-cars

They were designed in the halycon days of the 1930s, when everything was in black and white and people couldn’t afford a motor car.

cyclists-leaving-work-bw

The good old 1930s. Workers leaving factory. What happened when all these workers bought a motor car?

But, if you start off with the mindset of being patient and expecting it to be slow, it’s much easier to retain some equanimity. If you can’t enjoy the drive into town, and least at doesn’t leave you agitated.

As a cyclist, you often have to be patient. You could look at the top picture and get annoyed. Why are cars taking up so much space? If the other person was on a bicycle, there would be no delay.  “Why can’t you be nice and thin like me?” But, if you start thinking like that, you don’t end up in a good place. A little patience goes a long way; sometimes you have to wait a few seconds for a 4WD to carry its great hulk through the road. But, that’s fine, we all share the road – even Chelsea Tractors. 

It's not just motorists who need to learn patience

It’s not just motorists who need to learn patience

If you want to get angry and annoyed, it’s very easy to do. I’m sure there were always difficulties on the roads, but the all pervasive online culture of Newspaper comments seems to exacerbate the great British public’s tendency to get annoyed with someone else. – It’s always someone else’s fault.

The big thing at the moment seems to be anger directed at cyclists cycling in the middle of the lane, not in the gutter. But, as always the secret is to have a little patience. There are worse things to come across than a cyclist taking a decent position in the road. You only need a little empathy to understand the basic human emotion of self-preservation.

If you can only cope with a smooth uninterrupted drive, England probably isn’t the place to live.  I’ve heard the Arizona desert rarely gets flooded and the traffic jams are pretty much none existent.

To paraphrase the great Bobby McFerrin ‘Don’t worry about being 5 seconds late. Be happy’

When writing tips for commuting, I mentioned the one thing I’ve very slowly, almost imperceptibly, learnt over the past 15 years, is just a little patience makes the whole experience more enjoyable. I only wish I’d learnt it a little earlier.

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3 Responses to Patience is a virtue on the road

  1. JonF January 15, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    Hi Tejvan
    “It took a long time to drive the one mile during rush hour; .. The problem is that most of the roads around here were not designed for two rows of parked cars and heavy traffic.”

    The problem is that people, without thinking, jump in a car to travel 1 mile. Let’s hope it doesn’t take 15 years to realise this?

    • tejvan January 16, 2014 at 8:24 am #

      Yes, I think about 40% of journeys are less than 1 or 2 miles

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  1. Jeremy Clarkson tries cycling |Cycling uphill - March 3, 2014

    […] to give them space or time. But, when you’ve struggled to turn right yourself, you might just have a little more patience with a cyclist moving away from the gutter trying to turn […]

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