Wednesday 6 October 2010

The War On The Motorist

Apparently there has been a pernicious war on the motorist conducted by the last government. But it is all OK now as Philip Hammond is here to rescue us.

I am not so sure there has ever been a war on the motorist. I am a motorist, doing more miles than the average. If the government had been waging war on me, I am sure I would have noticed.

When I drive, the people "waging war" on my progress appears to be .... other motorists. It isn't government vehicles blocking up the motorways and ring-roads. I can only see a couple of solutions to this issue

1) The government bans everyone from driving apart from myself and a small group of carefully selected friends. Although, I think this is a good idea, I can accept that other people may not see it quite in the same way.
2) Us motorists decide to use our cars sensibly, and for short journeys accept that other modes of transport are more efficient - we also decide to use trains instead of cars for longer journeys and accept that, by driving the car, one cannot expect congestion free, cheap travel.

Philip Hammond is spouting populist nonsense. This is no better evidenced by his comments that once the "War on the Motorist" has been stopped he can look at important things such as congestion. How is he going to resolve congestion without people using their cars less? How can the congestion in London be resolved without a change in vehicle usage? It can't.

Cars are wonderful things, but they need to be viewed as simply a transport option that has certain benefits but also comes with consequences and therefore costs. There has been no "War on the Motorist". What is actually happening is that the total hegemony that motorists have enjoyed for years is being challenged on a very small scale, and the powerful motoring lobby is determined to strangle any such notion before it gains any ground.

I see glimmers of hope. Cycling isn't considered a weird minority hobby by many people now living in cities, especially London. People are realising that city facilities designed solely for cars destroy the local urban areas they supposedly service. Now we need local and national government to do everything to try to make these other transport choices as equitable, safe and convenient as possible. Since this will require motorists to cede some of the priority they have, I cannot see it happening any time soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment