The independent London newspaper

Get the kids out of cars

16 October, 2020

‘All the time the roads are there and available the drivers will keep using them’

• THERE are so many reasons why we all need to drive less – it’s difficult to know where to start but…

Danger: Transport for London stats for 2018 list 111 fatalities, of which over half were pedestrians, and almost 4,000 serious injuries.

Health: even electric vehicles generate pollution. Emissions Analytics have found pollution from tyre wear can be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a car’s exhaust.

Tyre particle pollution is proportional to the weight of a vehicle, so bicycles generate very little, SUVs generate a huge amount.

Obesity: Air pollution affects everyone, but the dangers of obesity from sitting and taking minimal exercise affects only the drivers themselves; except, of course, for the costs to the NHS.

TfL’s Walking Action Plan reports approximately 73 per cent of walkable trips are currently made by car.

Fear: Many surveys have shown that what stops people cycling, or allowing their children to cycle, is fear.

Economics: heavily trafficked streets are not good for shops. Why else are shopping malls so successful? But we want local businesses to thrive, so our local streets have got to become pleasant places to be.

Social justice: in Islington over two-thirds of residents don’t use a car. It is just not fair that the majority should suffer for the convenience of the minority.

We’ve known all these reasons for years, but many drivers just shut their ears and keep right on driving, because they find it convenient. All the time the roads are there and available the drivers will keep using them.

But make some of these roads inconvenient to use, then the drivers will have to think about how they travel and some of them will, finally, do the right thing and drive less.

That’s what people-friendly streets are all about: reducing the danger, breathing clean air, walking more, making us all healthier, feeling safe enough to ride bicycles ourselves and, most importantly, getting our children, our future, out of cars; and walking and riding bikes.

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