The Government has declared war on pedestrians, cyclists and the environment!

Not really- or at least, not formally- but they have, in the shape of Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark, echoed motorists self-pitying rhetoric as justification for yet more regressive policies. Two parking related policies- one encouraging more sensible use of space in new builds the other attempting to encourage more people onto public transport- have been “relaxed”. So we’ll get more suburban sprawl and more urban jams and the people who’ll suffer because of this aren’t the drivers or the politicians hoping to win their votes.

There is no war on motorists. There have been policies which have attempted to reduce congestion, and many of us would like drivers to take more responsibility for the damage they, collectively and individually, cause, but that’s not a war. If it were a war it would be fair to say that the motorists are winning. They kill thousands of people every year and injure scores more- and quite often get away with it, receiving minor or no punishment. They have newspapers and politicians on their side and a prejudice amongst the public which somehow paints the far less dangerous cyclist as the great evil of the highways.

If the Government really wants to make life easier for “decent, ordinary motorists” then some tough love would be a better prescription than the constant coddling they do at the moment. More actively punish dangerous drivers- such as the idiots who talk on their mobile whilst driving. Enforce parking restrictions more rigorously, particularly around schools at the start and end of the day. Close some roads and reduce the speed limit on others. Make short, inefficient, road clogging car journeys a thing of the past. (I don’t know how to go about that last one, but millions of journeys every year are walking distance and millions more are cycling distance. The pointlessness of these journeys- and the health and wealth benefits of doing them by foot or pedal- needs to be made clearer to drivers.)

We’re not at war with drivers, no matter how much they behave like the enemy. But we should be at war with the sort of selfishness and blindness which gives rise to dumb phrases such as “the war on motorists”.


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