Friday, 19 July 2013

Shake off the shackles

Cycling in Newcastle, UK

So many meetings this week; and so many people talking to me again about wanting see car use seriously curbed for a better and safer environment. I think politicians are blinded to evidence and so-called expert advice (highway engineers) - local politicians particularly. (Nationally there might be more evil conspiratory forces at work, with big corps 'stuffing fat cat politicians pockets'. And we all know the more money you've got the unkinder you get... )

In Newcastle access to a car is low - 40% of households do not have one. There are huge health inequalities between neighbouring wards. Public transport can be expensive and cycling is seriously unpleasant, with walking covering effectively a journey distance 1.5 miles before being too slow and restricting your movement radius.

This week I also listened to a talk from a university professor looking at pollution, traffic and climate change modelling (and their interactions) who had come to the only conclusion that curbing the car was the answer, it's driving us in the ground. No, even e-cars are not saving us.

Meeting a mum whose son was killed when cycling, it is still ringing in my ear when she said "I saw the bastard again the other day. He's still out there, driving." When all she wanted him, quite understandably, to be removed from the road. But in our society there is no justice for people travelling by non-car means, she was finding out the hard way. She held back her tears bravely.

Here's Newcastle's public realm story in an other's words:
The 1950s was the last decade of the slow and gradual evolution of Newcastle. At this time the roads and streets were much as they had been laid out in the 19th century and earlier. On them the electric powered trolley bus was still the prime mover of people about the city but it was already being challenged by the motor bus and was to disappear altogether by 1966.

The growth in personal motoring and the unrestricted access to the city centre was as elsewhere beginning to cause problems. The solutions which were to be employed in the 1960 and 1970s were to transform the appearance of much of the city for good or ill.

Source youtube 
And and article in The Times says there is no place for cars in cities.

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