4 Jun 2007

Derek Wall at war with Jeremy Clarkson

you can vote for or against road pricing here

Essentially I not saying road pricing is perfect more that we need to be all driving a lot less.

Any attempt to replace Jeremy Clarkson as patron saint of our green and pleasant land will lead to controversy. Yet the growth in car use in Britain is simply unsustainable. Transport contributes a fifth of greenhouse gases, in London air pollution from vehicles kills 1,000 people a year, road building tears up habitats and the acceleration of car use means it is more and more difficult for children to play safely. Britain's obesity crisis is a product of increasing car use in part. Congestion means that the very freedom of the car enslaves us in queues. Tough political decisions need to be taken to tackle the climate change, denial threatens our future.

When I see opposition to congestion charging combined with calls for higher speed limits, lower petrol prices and more motorways, I don't know whether to cry or laugh. Statements such as the Association of British Drivers claim that "climate change is being used as a vehicle for an anti-human, anti-capitalist, anti-mobility agenda by groups masquerading as 'green', and others are making a living by perpetuating the global warming industry", make opponents of congestion charging appear rather foolish.

Ask an addict to cut the habit and yes they will get angry. Anger must not be an excuse for inaction. We must wean ourselves off of that rather seductive narcotic: petrol.

Between 2003 and 2004 traffic in Britain rose by 1.7% to a total 498.6 billion vehicle kilometres (the equivalent of 42 round trips to the planet Pluto). Use of cars grew by 1.3%, use of light vans by 5.1% and use of HGVs by 3.1%. Traffic on motorways grew by 3.9%. (Source: DfT 2005) Overall levels of car traffic and the numbers of cars on the road have increased tenfold since 1955. (www.transport2000.org.uk) Road traffic in England is expected to grow by 26% by 2010 (on 2000 levels), 31% by 2015 and 40% by 2025.

1 comment:

lowbudgetlife said...

I'm green and against road pricing if that means some sort of totalitarian tracking system. There's now really no limit under New Labour the extent to which the State feels able to make real various bits of distopian sci-fi.

There's a couple of problems in the UK. Our public trasnport system is very expensive and uncomprehensive, shamed by many European neighbours. I'm lucky to live near London so at least I have public transport (albeit at rip-off rates) but a few miles further out and you're waiting on sparse bus-routes for buses that often never come.

We have more suburban sprawl than Europe, with not much medium-rise apartment accommodation near the city centre, which means we have more of the population marooned without car access.

There's a third problem too. From the boomers onwards we've become a nation of wah-wah-wah moaning teenagers. Either we want our cake and eat it or if that's not possible everyone else has to feel as miserable and sour-faced as we are.

I say stop roads building. Just stop it. Let the place grind to a halt. Let 'em stew on the M1 for hours. Let ring roads strangle towns.

I have a small car but sometimes two week stretches go by without it being used. When I'm stuck out in some jam I always think, 'Freedom of the open road, eh?' not, 'if they just opened this sucker up to 20 lanes we'd all get moving'(for the five minutes until the new road attracts more cars making more journeys and seizes up once more).

By building decent transport alternatives while not spending billions to help motorists with more and more roads, cars will no longer seem the easy option. The Clarksony petrolheads will then start to look and sound like the people that once got angry when smoking was ended in offices.

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