Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Orange Cones

What is with this British love of orange cones? There are millions (I am not kidding, millions) of these littering the highways and byways of the UK. On the M3 going west there is maybe a 15 miles or orange cones, and I have never ever seen a single workman doing anything on that stretch. I have noticed that they have a strange work pattern here when it comes to cones and roads. About three days before they plan to do anything, they block off the road and put down dozens of cones to inconvenience as many people as possible. They then leave them there for a few days, probably for us to "get used" to the idea that the road will be partially blocked for a while. The workers then appear for a few hours one day and dig a hole and scratch around in the dirt, before filling the hole and leaving. The cones then stay around for a week or so, to show us that work has been done.

If this was Israel I would be convinced that the importer of cones was somehow connected (family or friend) of the Minister of Transport, but, of course, that would not be British. Still I am amazed at the sheer number of orange cones that surround us here. Most people don't even notice them any more. They have become part of the scenery and the British are a patient lot. In fact in 1992 then Prime Minister John Major implemented a "Cones Hotline" to allow frustrated motorists to report areas where cones had been deployed for no apparent reason. It shut down in 1995 due to lack of interest by the public (actually was renamed/re-purposed the Highways Agency Information Line or HAIL) and was largely considered to be a waste of public funds. It appears "Cone Syndrome" is now used to describe a piece of legislation that seems to serve no purpose (thanks Wikipedia). 

Last night on the way back from collecting bwo from Heathrow, as we entered the M3, we caught a glimpse of yellow jacketed men setting out more cones. They were actually moving the cones from being in a straight line along the highway to rows of three to five cones perpendicular to the highway. Maybe they just don't have anywhere to store the billions of cones they have so they just keep moving them from motorway to motorway. These looked exactly like the cones I saw on the M11 on my way to Cambridge last week.

Petersham Road has had it's fair share of cone work in the last three years. I have probably spent more than a day in total, waiting in serious traffic and having to maneuver around construction obstructions in the road. It's a busy road and the main artery between the transportation mecca of Richmond (underground, overground and SW Trains) and the shopping mecca of Kingston (Primark and pound shops, just ask bwo or look at our Visa bill). But every so often (for example, two nights back) the cones come out. I very rarely see any yellow Hi-Viz jacketed workers, but in the morning there they are, cones aplenty. Like fairy circles except orange and in the road. 

Just wait till I get started on the "Temporary Traffic Signals". Now there's a completely British phenomenon. 

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