Notes from a reader

Not long after I posted yesterday's eulogy to the Dutch road-pricing system, the following arrived. It was too good to leave buried in the comments...
I normally have a poke at the mindless UK media – which one week will report how dreadful it is that cars are killing people by crashing into each other, emitting noxious fumes and warming the planet – and the next will celebrate the latest setback for common sense (repealing the London congestion charge, canceling the LRUC project, discontinuing the TIF initiatives).

Last week the Labour party elected its new leader. His speech was mainly themed on how Labour will win the next election, rather than how any policies will benefit the citizens, who will not get to vote again for about five years. Meanwhile the ruling party declares that it will “end the war on the motorist”, the first manifestation of which is to cause cancellation nationwide of speed camera partnerships at local levels. We have some real wars going on, for example in Afghanistan, which have killed about 300 Brits. In the same time, road deaths have killed about fifty times as many people. Politicians don’t know which war to fight, and content themselves with populist pronouncements to feed media expectations.

London has a Mayor who thinks that putting a few thousand bikes out for hire will really make a dent in the massively larger vehicle population. In the same week that he confirmed the abolition of the Western Extension Congestion Charge, thereby freeing the inhabitants of Kensington & Chelsea from the tyranny of road charging, I noticed an interesting feature on that borough’s website. This site offers suggestions for walking and cycling routes which are planned to avoid the areas of heavy pollution and careless London drivers. Health advice is that, in a growing vehicle population, attempting to walk or cycle by a convenient route is quite likely to lead to a premature death by one means or another.

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