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2006 April

RAMBLINGS FROM THE RIVER BANK

“Satellite Navigation Systems are destroying rural communities” was the theme of several newspaper articles this month. There are increasing complaints from rural communities that the drivers of large lorries are now blindly following in-vehicle satellite navigation systems which are set to show the shortest routes. As a result very large wagons are ending up on roads far too narrow and twisty for their size with the result they become stuck, causing traffic jams and considerable inconvenience to local people. In fact in some areas the impact has been so great there are calls for the removal of unclassified roads from the maps used by these systems.

On at least two occasions in the last few years, their use by large articulated lorries has blocked roads in and around Carrog. On the first an extremely large articulated lorry stopped outside Dewis Dyddyn with the unmistakable sound of air being expelled from powerful brakes. The vehicle totally filled the road and blocked it to all traffic save pedestrians and pedal cyclists. The driver was German and had a delivery for the industrial estate in Corwen, but the driver’s Company had given him a GPS co-ordinate not for the Llidiart Estate, but to Llidiart y Parc via the back road.

He had quickly realised his lorry, not only by virtue of weight but also sheer length, would not cross the bridge. He also expressed grave doubts about continuing along the Ty Nant Road towards Glyndyfrdwy. I confirmed his doubts in the belief that such a large vehicle would be unable to negotiate the numerous sharp bends In fact we were both wrong, but more of that later.

With admirable and remarkable skill he reversed back through the village, avoiding the numerous parked cars and eventually managing to get back on route by some careful manoeuvrings around the Maes y Llan junction, but again causing a complete blockage of the road.

On the second occasion whilst returning from Glyndyfrdwy along the back road I found the road very nearly blocked by an equally large articulated lorry whose French driver had followed his GPS along the back road from Llangollen and had continued to follow it when it directed him up the Bwlch y Goch road to Bryneglwys. He made the first 100 yards before bends and the steepness of the road stopped him and he then slid backwards, becoming lodged on the triangle of grass bank at the bottom of the road, not quite blocking both roads. He was wedged on the grass bank so firmly the vehicle was immobilised.

A breakdown wagon had to be called out and several hours later the tow truck followed by the artic came down the Ty Nant Road into the Village, thereby proving that the German driver and myself were both wrong in our belief such large vehicles cannot negotiate the back road. Most of the verges and even some of the hedges ended up layered across the road.

There are still several areas of the British Isles for which no computerised maps have been produced for these systems and amongst them is the Isle of Man. Attempt to use one of these systems in the Island and simply offers the advice, “Go to the nearest road”. I wonder if this is a polite way of telling drivers to ‘go away’ - or words to that effect!


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