On September 22nd, it is National Car Free Day to encourage motorists to give up their cars for the day. I don’t for one minute think we will see car-free roads. People have to travel to work and I can’t see them wanting to walk or cycle, or get public transport instead. However, there are a few who will, and some who don’t go out to work but decide not to uses theirs that day. Every little helps. At the beginning of the Corona Pandemic, cities lay silent, atmospheres cleared, and the road’s emptied. It was a truly amazing sight.
I lived in the big city of Manchester for most of my life. It was getting me down, and one of the reasons was I couldn’t go anywhere. If we wanted a trip to the countryside or even to the sea, the stress of getting there due to the number of traffic jams and roadworks took the joy out of it.
So, in 2016, we moved to North Wales, to the Isle of Anglesey, an island of twenty-five miles across and a hundred and twenty-five miles of coastline. We have an active tourist season where the island becomes a lot busier, but never as busy as Manchester is on a Sunday.
I consider myself lucky enough to remember the days before traffic. Just before I married, I lived on what is now a busy main road. It has a constant flow of vehicles. When we lived there, the occasional car passed. It was also the bus route to town where I went to work. I would catch it outside my house and the trip took twenty minutes to the centre. That same trip now would take at least an hour a half. No one gets out of second gear! Weekends were a time that very few people worked. Particularly on a Sunday, it was the quietest day of all traffic-wise.
When I was a child, we would visit my grandparents in Oswestry. They had a bungalow on a small road that narrowed into a lane. We would take our notebook and sit on the wall with our pen poised, collecting car registration numbers as they went passed. When you were eight, it was a fun thing to do. We had to wait and we would go back inside after an hour, having only collected five.
The bungalow still sits there and now surrounded by businesses and car showrooms, it looks a little out of place. The lane it led to has been widened and leads to a retail park with plenty of shops. That means plenty of vehicles passing through, even queues, something unheard when Nana and Papa lived there.
Today’s children cannot imagine what life was like when there was no traffic and when motorways were always free-flowing. Getting anywhere took the time it took to drive.
Luckily, I have that back living here on Anglesey, and I relish every moment. I sometimes wonder what life will be like on Britain’s road in another thirty years. Something has to give because more and more cars will just eventually grind it to a halt.
North to Maynard is a fun story written by Paul White. I say fun referring to its intrigue and length. I read it earlier last year, and it’s about a car journey. I think you will like it too.
All the details and my review can be found here.