Apocalypse Now!

There was a tube strike today, and it had a lot in common with the Zombie Apocalypse – thousands upon thousands of pale, lurching creatures emerged from dark tunnels under the streets, all of them pissed-off and bloodthirsty, and chaos and carnage were unleashed upon the world.

There were so many pedestrians on the pavements that they could barely move. And they kept spilling over onto the road, with predictable results.

And there were twice as many cars on the road, most of them crawling along in long queues, or just backed up for miles, sitting with their engines running and getting all hot and bothered. This is actually quite fun if you like hurtling and twisting and turning and wriggling through gaps barely the width of your handlebars (which luckily I do).

And as if all this wasn’t enough, there was a celebration of the Battle of Britain going on in St Pauls, and at lunchtime about 2,500 war veterans marched very slowly from the cathedral to the Guildhall. All the traffic was stopped by police on motorbikes – and because there was twice as much traffic around as usual …well, I’m sure you can imagine.

And it rained. Briefly, but violently and impressively.

So of course, everyone was ridiculously wound up, and no one was prepared to give each other the tiniest leeway. And people took advantage of the chaos to start breaking all the rules. I’ve never seen so many cars, lorries, vans and motorbikes jumping red lights.

And this proves my theory – that the disaster movie trope of massive stationary tailbacks leading out of major cities is entirely and depressingly accurate. If everyone cooperated, stuck to the rules, stopped at the lights, and gave right of way where it was due, we’d all get out in time. But people aren’t like that – they panic, and once enough people have jumped the lights, the junctions get blocked, and there’s too much traffic in the way to unblock them. So you’re stuck.

And then the zombies get you.

Eh? Where did all these people come from?


15 Responses to “Apocalypse Now!”

  1. Bassjunkieuk Says:

    Definitely got to fine-tune my filtering skillz today, Lambeth Bridge>Parliament Sq. was GRIDLOCK when I hit it earlier this morning on the way in and I do rather love cutting a way through the traffic almost as much as I enjoy unleashing some “awesome speed” along Millbank ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Redbike Says:

    I haven’t been able to ride for the last three months because some freak pushed me over. I am sick of being one of being one of the pissed off zombie car drivers thats stuck in a never ending traffic queues.

  3. Exenger of Doom Says:

    Makes you realise how many people are ‘hidden’ in London on a normal day…

    • thatmessengerchick Says:

      That’s exactly what I thought when I witnessed a fire drill the other day. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people were pouring out of a building – many more than it looked like it could contain. It would be amazing – and a bit scary – if for some reason everyone in the city suddenly went out into the streets.

  4. goreggiego Says:

    that tube strike day was amusing – yes for us lucky ones on two wheels. car drivers seem to hate us couriers on normal days let alone on armagedon and the day of the tube strike in London.

    The Sun was shining and work was picking up and went home reasonably pleased and made decent-ish money;)

    Seeing the drivers liked caged beasts in their steel compartments with stem coming out of their ears. I clipped a lorries wing mirror I was getting excited in between cars in traffic going down Bloomsbury, he was pissed, I apologised but was in too much of as hurry to stop, he had no choice ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • thatmessengerchick Says:

      I actually had a nice experience with a lorry driver on London Wall that day. He was just a bit too close to the rest of the traffic for me to get through, and spotted me hovering at the gap, trying to size up whether I could get my bars through it, said “wait a second”, and managed to shift to the side just enough for me to get through. So they aren’t all bad…

  5. goreggiego Says:

    thats a nice gesture from a white van. dont get me wrong there must be some courteous van drivers in London, or atleast I hope so.

    cycling on the tube strike day made me realise how travelling through London in a car/van or bus must be utter torment on days of tube strikes. Im 26 and havent got a drivers license and to be frank have no intention to get one.

    cycling is too much fun, practical and efficient for urban riding in congested urban space.

    ride safe

  6. goreggiego Says:


  7. MarkS-BJUK Says:

    As someone who used to have to “drive” in London I can tell you it is shite. In my previous job role I was a mobile engineer and dreaded the days I was in London. Thanks to the ridiculous on-street parking I spent more time walking around with the car in a centrally located NCP amongst 2 or 3 jobs!

    It once took me 1 1/2 hours to get from Regent Street to a car park near Trafalgar Square (had a call in NZ House). I did the same journey on my bike about a week later in less then 10 minutes – so fast in fact I had to to a double take as I got to Piccadily Circus and nearly missed Haymarket ;-P

    So yes driving in London is terrible…….

  8. stupidP Says:

    “It would be amazing โ€“ and a bit scary โ€“ if for some reason everyone in the city suddenly went out into the streets”.

    The 7 July 2005 London bombings. They did.

    • thatmessengerchick Says:

      Eek. That happened during my first week in London, and I didn’t leave the house all day, so missed out on the carnage.

      I wish that there could be some sort of GOOD reason (i.e. not involving death and misery) for people to flock out into the streets again, just so that I could see what it looks like from a bike.

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