bookmark_borderDutch roundabouts

When I was in Ljouwert/Leeuwarden last summer, my hotel was placed next to a huge roundabout. This gave me a great opportunity to observe how the Dutch have managed to make roundabouts that are safe for bikes – something which so far has been beyond most other countries.

Have a look at the picture on the right, and in particular at the bike (marked with an arrow).

The bike lane is red, and cars are warned with triangles to give way to any bikes. Also, there is a car length between the edge of the cars’ roundabout and the bike lane, so a car can leave the roundabout first and then look out for bikes.

All in all, it seems like an excellent solution. I wonder when we’ll see something similar here in Scotland?

bookmark_borderDriving faster on the motorway

speed limit
Originally uploaded by perlmonger

As I’ve written before, it’s an British anomaly that the speed limit is the same on motorways and dual carriageways (70 mph).

The CoLD coalition now seem to considering raising the speed limit on motorways to 80 mph (129 km/h), which would make good sense.

However, I think they should also lower the speed limit on dual carriageways to 60 mph (97 km/h), and on single carriageways to 50 mph (80 km/h) at the same time, but that isn’t mentioned in the article, so I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up.

bookmark_borderWill Saab start competing with the Mini and the Fiat 500?

It looks like Saab under its new Dutch ownership is about to move in new directions (which can only be a good thing).

For instance, they’re planning to introduce a Mini-like small car, cute, feisty, with a hot little turbocharged engine, the Ur-Saab reborn in 2012.

Sounds like a fun car for when the three big kids are with their father. 🙂

bookmark_borderEight seats

Originally uploaded by TvR

For some reason, most cars have four or five seats.

The Fiat Multipla has six, and then a large group of people carriers (like our Citroën C8) have seven seats.

However, anybody needing more than seven seats has until now needed to buy a minibus.

However, now Hyundai have introduced an eight-seater!

It even appears to have a decent-sized boot, so it would be really useful for a big family.

It suddenly seems like our main obstacle for having any more kids after the girl who is expected to come out in January has suddenly disappeared! 😉

bookmark_borderWatching the wheels

Split wing mirror
Originally uploaded by viralbus

Shortly after I got my driving license, we went to Tuscany on holiday.

My parents, who we were visiting, thought it would be good for me to learn to drive on the right, too, so they let me drive their car, a Fiat Multipla.

One feature of that car is that it has split wing mirrors (see the photo): The top part is a normal wing mirror, while the bottom part is fixed to show the bottom edge of the car.

It’s probably designed to make parking easier (and it definitely works for that purpose), but I found it invaluable to learn to gauge the width of the car.

Basically, at first I had no idea where the edge of the road was, but once I learned to check the bottom mirror, I found I could see precisely where I was.

I probably only used it intensively for an hour or two, and I then got a really good feel for the width of the car.

Actually, when I returned to the UK, I realised that I actually felt less able to gauge the width of my own car.

It’s not really the kind of thing you need all the time, but it would be a wonderful feature every time you drive a new car.


Thomas’s new car
Originally uploaded by PhylB

Som jeg har skrevet før, bestod jeg køreprøven i sidste uge.

Phyllis’ forældre brugte det som en undskyldning for at skifte deres biler ud, og vi fik så lov til at købe Anns gamle bil.

Da Phyllis er ejer af vores Citroën C8, besluttede vi, at jeg skulle stå som ejer af den fire år gamle Nissan Micra S.

Vi er begge forsikret til begge biler, så reelt bliver Micraen nok bilen til småture og Citroënen bilen til længere weekendture.

Men det er altså min første bil, og jeg tror såmænd nok, jeg skal blive glad for den.

bookmark_borderThird time lucky

Today is a great day: It’s 40 years since man first set foot on the Moon, and I finally passed my driving test!

It was my third attempt: The first time I overlooked an unmarked junction, and the second time I was being so careful not to do the same again that I failed for being excessively cautious.

But today everything went smoothly – I only picked up two driving faults, which is really good (you’re allowed up to 14 if I remember correctly).

Some of my Danish friends have commented that it must be hard learning to drive on the left, but it actually was surprisingly easy, but then I’ve lived here for more than seven years now. It probably would have been much harder if I had tried to pass it just after moving to Scotland.

Now I have to learn motorway driving (you’re not allowed near a motorway until you pass the test), and driving on the right next time we’re on the continent.