This morning was one of those crisp winter mornings that you sometimes get, with a hard frost picking out the branches of the trees, and almost everything covered in a layer of white. The weather also resulted in mist collecting in the valleys, and any smoke, such as the smoke from chimneys, just hanging in the air. In most places the temperature was hovering around freezing, but made it down to -2Â½Â°C going through Alton.
Having said that, whilst it looks pretty, when you’ve got a 44 mile drive ahead of you down country roads, you never quite know what you’re going to find! Since this is the third winter I’ve been driving down to Havant, I’m starting to learn the blackspots. There are several corners that I take especially carefully, where the Focus has started to slide. Whilst the Golf so far seems better in winter, it is still the standard British set up in that it is using summer tyres. (For anyone elsewhere in the world who is suprised by that, established British wisdom is that because our winters are pretty mild, there is no point in swapping over to winter tyres. More than that, most cars are supplied, and stick with standard summer tyres rather than all seasons. As a result, on the occasions that the temperature does drop a bit, the majority of the people on the roads are driving on tyres that, if the manufacturers are to be believed, serious underperform.)
Anyway, I got to Alton without any particular problems, however, heading up over the hills between Alton and Selbourne, on the B3006, everything ground to a halt. The B3006 is probably the most difficult road on my route to work. It is the most direct route from Alton to the A3, however it is very narrow along it’s entire length – buses and trucks have to pass each other very carefully – and at one point in Selbourne there is barely space to pass two cars. The general direction the road planners are going in is to try and discourage use, signing the A32 and the A272 as the route to Petersfield and the A3, however anyone with local knowledge knows that it takes significantly longer, even with the chicanes and speed limits. As a result, especially during rush hour, the road is pretty busy, mainly with cars, but including buses, as the main bus route from Liss to Alton goes straight down the road too.
Not surprisingly the road does seem to be one of the more frequent places that I come across accidents, probably once every two to three months. This morning was one such day. I also tend to sit it out if we come to a halt, unless the Police are explicitly turning people back. Whilst there are other ways around, invariably I end up either stuck in another queue on an alternative route, or on a road that is even more narrow!
This mornings accident was actually on a straight bit of road, but again one of the really narrow bits. I came to a halt not too far back, and within sight of the rescue vehicles and police cars, so I assume that the accident had only recently occured. In the end I was stuck for about 20-25 minutes whilst they loaded the wreckage and cleared the road.
However looking at what was loaded and drove past whilst I was waiting, it was one of those situations where there was a depressing familiarity to what I saw. In fact a couple of days ago I’d narrowly avoided similar accident. What went past was a Renault Scenic with a crushed front wing on the drivers side, and a rather mangled looking BMW motorbike – nothing else. A few days ago, and many many times before, on that particular straight, I have narrowly missed motorbikes, that despite the fact that the road is barely wide enough to pass two cars, line run – overtake traffic by riding down the centre line of the road. What makes that stretch worse is that before and after there are a couple of dips in the road, and slight wiggles that can hide cars, so this is one of the few straights where they can pass, so they take risks, sometimes trying to overtake just one more car. The accident was just at a very slight bend. I’ve been lucky enough to miss them, some unfortunate driver this morning had one of them crash into their front. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been into motorbikes, but I can never understand why people do it, surely they must be aware of who would come off worse, but still the number of bikes that weave between traffic, ride close to my back wing at speed, or push it when overtaking is truly frightening.