Friday, 11 May 2012

A fairy tale of car addiction

I mean, really, what is so difficult to understand?

We have to take space away from the car (driven and parked) and give it to people walking and cycling. It's a political decision by all means. And politicians support the majority for their re-election. Yes. It's tough to make tough choices. Guess what! Right choices never come easy.

We don't talk about it much at the DfT but...

On the basis of our car addiction...

'Nudge' does not help. Yet nudge is all that government provides. Training here, some promotion over there. Yet, even a free school bike breakfast comes with a disclaimer:

"N.B. The responsibility for your child cycling safely to and from school rests with the parents. The school has no liability for any consequences of that decision. Parents are advised to take out appropriate insurance cover for bikes as the school’s insurance does not cover loss or damage to bicycles. Each cyclist is required to bring a lock on the day in order to secure the bicycle in the school grounds. Please consider cycling with your child, wearing a helmet and high visibility vest."

Meanwhile. The traffic-order nanny, the DfmmT, is staggeringly draggy in its approach to local decision-making on our roads. Want to put up a sign? You gotta get permission of the sign fairy first. Rarely have I seen a tighter-fit pair of trousers (and I have lived through the 70s). Ouch. You can't breathe, can't walk, can't do anything. Not a surprise then it attracts certain kind of folks. Silent. Obedient. Does as the sign fairy says.

In any case. Nudging an addict? Where'd that get you? Addicts live and breathe denial:

"I need a car. I need my car. To live."

We all know that addicts, sometimes by force, have to be taken into therapy where hard realities are learnt.

You can survive without overusing the car. It is even possible to get around without your car. Can't you see how your addiction is destroying your relationships, your environment, your bank balance, your neighbourhood and community? Try it for short journeys to start with and build up a feeling of self-esteem.

Maybe the DfmmT should have a support group for car addicts?

"Do you, a friend, a family member or a work colleague have a car addiction problem? Are you looking for professional help and don’t know where to start? We’re glad you found us. We’re here to provide the best treatment options for you. We work with a fully qualified team of counselling and healthcare professionals to put you on a low carbon diet."

Here's the strapline slogan:

"We understand how difficult the road to car addiction recovery is."
"We are here to set you on the path to a healthy recovery."
"And you know what?"
"By bike."

I added this video at a later date, HT Kim Harding


  1. Cars are like alcohol, a wee bit is nice but dependence is a very bad thing, it wrecks lives.

  2. Great post. I do enjoy driving cars but haven't been able to find one yet (possibly due to having 6 kids and always needing a "practical" big family type one!) that gives me the same buzz and feeling as I get from my bike. From zipping around London, along country lanes or hammering it down the local hill, all under my own steam it's simply unbeatable! My bike is my drug and I'm an unashamed addict :-D

  3. Cycling... Yeah. A healthy drug.

  4. DfmmT is a great name. I shall use it from now on in all circumstances. The Sign Fairy has recently relaxed the rules a bit of course. But that just means that each local authority is now appointing one extra Officer, the "Guess What This Sign Means (If You Can See It At All) Elf".

    One sub-set of car addiction is parking addiction. A lot of Bristol streets are impassable to buses, delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles because free parking is allowed on both sides. The needy parkers object to the imposition of double yellow lines and what was a passable highway becomes a frequently blocked free car park.

  5. Ministerial sign fairies hard at work

  6. What a fantastic post you have made. I just stopped in to tell you I really enjoyed the read and shall be dropping by from time to time from now on. webpage