The independent London newspaper

The only way to reduce congestion is to get people out of their cars

08 October, 2020

Get people out of their cars and onto public transport, bicycles, or onto the soles of their feet

• THE growing number of Low-Traffic Neighbour­hoods (LTNs) and new cycle lanes has exposed a massive divide in London.

I declare I am militantly in favour of these new measures.

Having grown up in Shropshire, I can see that cars are a necessity in rural areas, especially if you live 10 miles out of town and the bus service is every two hours.

I moved to London in 2013 and to Camden in 2017. The notion of buying and using a car while living here feels totally alien.

I started cycling during the spring and I haven’t looked back since; the only reason it took me so long to take up cycling was the sheer number of cars on the road in London.

I applaud the efforts of councils across the city to encourage cycling, but there is still so much more that needs to be done.

Dramatic changes to how we move around cities will naturally cause upset, especially the loss of parking bays and the need to get rid of older vehicles as part of the expanded Ultra-Low Emission Zone.

While these changes are frustrating, the short-term disruption is worth the long-term gain.

The planet and our health is in crisis, and we cannot continue to mess around the edges of the bigger issues out of fear that localised changes might be unpopular.

Those who are against new cycle lanes often say that they discriminate against the disabled who (they claim) rely on parking bays.

While I agree that provisions need to be made in these cases, this is also a massive oversimplification of a complicated issue, since many disabled people are unable to drive due to the condition they are living with.

The solution is to invest more in public transport in order to expand it and improve accessibility while maintaining some (limited) parking provision.

In addition, the build-up of congestion is not a reason to remove LTNs and cycle lanes.

The only way to reduce congestion is to get people out of their cars and onto public transport, onto their bicycles, or onto the soles of their feet.

The deputy leader of Southwark Council summed up the whole debate in The Guardian more eloquently than I can: “It is a culture war between those who want to drive wherever they want, whenever they want, at whatever speed they want – compared to the right of everybody else to get around peacefully and effectively”.



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