Journal Entry from the Countryside: The Loss of Serenity in Villages like This Due to Satnav Dependence | Written by Derek Niemann
A narrow strip of pavement separates a row of thatched cottages from the main road in this secluded village. Standing with my arms outstretched, one hand can touch the exterior wall of a bedroom or living room, while the other hand reaches towards the street. On the other side, there are farm buildings that face the road. This close proximity didn’t seem to matter for over two hundred years. The occasional horse and cart, a rare car, and maybe a milk float in the 1970s were the only vehicles seen. When I first discovered this area, I often fantasized about owning a house here. However, it was a village owned by an estate, so it was never a possibility.
Since the desire for a peaceful location, a sense of energy has permeated this community, influencing both its residents and non-residents. Even on a weekday morning in winter, I can sense it as I stand here. Every few seconds, an SUV zooms by, offering convenience and power but also creating a strong gust of air that can feel overwhelming. In this narrow pedestrian area, there is no refuge from the constant flow of traffic, especially during peak rush hours when cars pass in opposite directions.
In urban areas, the speed limit is usually 30mph or 20mph. However, in more rural areas like this, the limit is 40mph. Despite this, drivers tend to go slightly above the limit since there are no speed cameras in the area.
Our electronic devices and navigation systems divert us from the main roads designed for efficient travel. On the parallel A1, which runs half a mile west, traffic frequently becomes congested, resulting in long lines of cars before the roundabout. When these main roads are blocked, our navigational systems lead us to smaller, winding roads with dangerous turns and steep inclines. We feel relieved to have avoided traffic, but this comes at a high cost for areas like Little Barford.