It took me four hours to get from Edinburgh to Dunfermline on Saturday. I didn’t take a detour via Glasgow or stop off at the shops, unfortunately I was one of the hundreds of cars stuck in the chaos at the Forth Road Bridge during the weekend’s roadworks.On my way to Edinburgh, the tailbacks were just starting as cars were merged into one lane to cross the west side of the bridge. At the time, it was like rush hour … but things quickly took a turn for the worse.
Perhaps in hindsight (which is a wonderful thing!), I should have gone home via the Kincardine Bridge, but I didn’t and instead sat for four hours on the two-mile stretch on the approach to the Bridge.
The first hour and half passed ok as my son slept peacefully in the back of the car. I wish the same could be said for the second half of the journey. Trying to entertain a three year old in the back of the car for that length of time isn’t easy at the best of times, let alone when you’re stuck on the road to nowhere.
As one of Scotland’s main arteries, once the situation escalated, police should have got involved to help stranded motorists, many with families. Central reservations could have been opened to let people turn back. Or, perhaps an appreciation by the Forth Road Bridge that the situation was so horrendous that stronger action was needed to stop people joining the end of the queue, not just tweets.
Poor communication lay at the heart of this disastrous episode. Yes, there was tweeting and eventually it was on radio. And yes, there may have been signs – but they are little good once you hit the problem. Where else was the potential for problems flagged up in advance? It’s fine using social media but most of us still get our news from local media, whether tv, radio or newspapers. And to avoid this situation, it should have been repeated over and over again, across every medium, so that the message got across in the week before the roadworks.
While I sat there I was aware there was a man in a kilt desperately trying to get to a wedding, there were sports car enthusiasts out for a Saturday drive and there were also a number of foreigners, who now have an awful lasting impression of Scotland.
To those visitors who were stuck, please don’t be put off Scotland by the weekend’s chaos. In normal conditions, four hours of driving would take you far into the Highlands of Scotland, where there is lots to explore … and less travel disruption! To those in charge of the roadworks – better communication, please, in future or I will let my tired, hungry and fed-up three year old loose on you once we get out the jam…