Most country roads are potholed, weed-infested messes with no genius evident in their planning or management.
Then you encounter a road like the A57 across the High Peak, and you remember with astonishment how lovesome a road can be. Italy is a network of breathtaking roads snaking through the valleys of the Apennines on viaducts so elegant that they delight the eye. The French have pulled off a major coup in building the Millau Viaduct, so high and fine that it is thrilling to drive under or over it.Ms Greer gives no evidence of knowing that the Millau Viaduct was a business venture. Built (on time and under budget) and maintained by private enterprise to earn a profit. The absence of such incentives in Britain goes a long way to explain why she sees what she does;
Since 1994, the British entity responsible for the maintenance and management of existing roads, and the construction of new ones, has been the mysterious Highways Agency. This, an executive agency of the Department of Transport, modifies our daily lives in all kinds of subtle and not so subtle ways. Its chief executive is probably more important to us than the Prime Minister but few of us know his name – Graham Dalton. His face is never seen, his voice never heard.
In 2010, the Highways Agency set out its "strategic plan for the next five years", a preposterous assemblage of pseudo-inspirational guff, announcing a new "stretching vision" to be "the world's leading road operator". Road users couldn't care less about the status of "world's leading road operator". It would be small comfort to know our roads were better managed than those of Japan or China, supposing that to be true.A journey of a million miles begins with putting the key in the ignition.