Traffic Delays - Is the Problem in our Heads?

The local paper contacted me the other day asking my thoughts about recent traffic delays around Aberystwyth caused by various roadworks. They were asking if the tourist season was the best time of year to be doing this work. Then it occurred to me that I’d been asked a similar question before, but at an entirely different time of the year. And I wondered, is there actually any time at all when people don't mind roadworks?

The tourist season may seem at first like a bad time to do these works, but then tourists aren’t in a hurry, the university students aren’t here, many local people are on holiday and there are no school runs happening twice a day. So the timing could be worse and I suspect reasons would be found against roadworks at any time.

The blockages to Park Avenue/Boulevard St Brieuc in Aberystwyth are being caused by two different sets of work - a sensible bit of co-ordination it could be argued. At the Llanbadarn end bus stops and pedestrian refuges are being built to serve the new government buildings, due to open next month, in an attempt to make it easier for people to reach the buildings without a car. At the same time, at the town end, a new rising water main is being laid to reduce the incidents of sewage flooding in the town centre, currently running at a very smelly three incidents a year.

Then, on the Llanbadarn Road approach, traffic has been delayed by changes being made to the entrance of Penweddig school, aimed at making the road safer for schoolchildren when they return in September. All this is worthwhile work.

Of course, we've all seen situations where roadworks could have been better planned and co-ordinated. But why is it seemingly so important that cars aren’t delayed for even two minutes, not even for clearly important work?

Maybe we ourselves should take more responsibility for our own impatience rather than blame the Council or the Trunk Road Agency for trying to improve services. As a car driver myself (as well as a cyclist and pedestrian) I confess to the occasional bout of frustration at delays when I think I need to be in a hurry. But then, in better moments, I switch the car ipod to
Pharoah Sanders and try to take it as an opportunity to chill out and contemplate the illusion of haste. Maybe the Council should put on relaxation classes.