SO I’VE only gone and done it. After years of relying on fossil fuels to haul me to the office and back, I’ve gone and invested in some zero emissions transport.
The vehicle in choice is essentially mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive and handles beautifully, and yet it costs pennies a week to run. It’s delightfully devoid of NOx and particulate emissions too, although if I up the pace a bit there’s a modicum of carbon dioxide left in its wake. Oh, alright, perhaps the odd bit of methane too, depending on what I had for dinner the night before. Yes, it’s a bicycle.
Of course, the real reason why I’ve just invested £150 on pedal power is because the vast majority of journeys in Lockdown Britain are to the shops and back, or for the essential exercise preventing me from looking like a misfiring blimp. For all those other outings, and particularly in the first week since Boris tentatively eased back the dial denoting what we can and can’t do, I’ve been getting up to speed on coronavirus motoring.
The biggest challenge of which is getting your hatchback of choice up and running in the first place. In the past two months my Reliant Scimitar has only been as far as the end of the driveway, the VW Polo MkII has done a whopping 24 miles in two months, and I had to jumpstart my Toyota Avensis – which is normally accustomed to racking up 200 miles a week – because its battery had gone flat from all the inactivity. Then there are all the tales of weak starter motors, seized-up brakes and flat spots on tyres that I’ve been hearing from quite a few of you.
Once you’ve got the car up and running there are some odd new quirks, too. There are the delivery vans, which seem to have multiplied tenfold and be in even more of a rush then they were pre-lockdown, and other motorists who, having not driven anything for such an unprecedented length of time, seem to have genuinely forgotten how Britain’s roads work. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of heading out to do your shopping at 7.55am on a Thursday night, unless you’ve got some weird unfulfilled ambition to have an entire town applaud you as you tootle through suburbia.
But the biggest culture shock is that – thanks to social distancing – it’s now completely normal for someone to walk right into the middle of the road, often without looking. Of course, any half-decent driving instructor will urge you to anticipate everything and to react accordingly, but I’m still getting used to the sheer number of people who’ll happily put themselves in the path of, say, a Peugeot 308 because being run over is better than risking catching Covid-19. Fair enough, but do look before you leap!
Everyone’s going on about ‘the new normal’, so this is the sort of motoring we’re going to have to get used to. That and doing most of my journeys the pedal-powered, zero emissions way, of course…