As I tootle to school in the morning, I see them. Harrassed mothers, children crammed into the car, creating traffic jams. As I meander around Barons Court I see them. Traffic backed up along Palliser Road, curling into Castletown. As I stroll home in the evening there they are, home from a long day in the office, cruising around trying to find a parking space.
My life as a councillor is dominated by traffic: parking woes, congestion woes, air pollution woes. We Londoners live in a polluted city. And it is harming us and our children.
Here is how to improve your life and our city. Free yourself from car-bound slavery. Get rid of your car. Walk.
Here are some of the good things that happen to you when you walk.
1. You peer at all the glorious Victorian architecture here in our beautiful city. Lovely details smile out from house after house.
2. You can admire people’s front gardens and the wonderful and wierd arrangements they have.
3. You get to admire our beautiful street trees and their glorious autumn colours.
4. You can cut through our lovely parks and cemetaries. Is Margravine Cemetary the loveliest in London? Join the Friends today.
5. You run into neighbours and can say hello to the elderly bloke who lives down the street.
6. You can pick up a bit of litter and pat yourself on the back for do-gooding.
7. You can scratch around in your head for half-forgotten scraps of poetry. ….Let us go through certain half-deserted streets…
8. You can scout out spots for guerilla gardening.
9. You get some exercise.
10. You never sit, in a car, in a traffic jam again.
One of my urban-planning dreams is this. Street-property home-owners who do not have cars, get to create a micro-park in the parking space outside their house. They effectively have to pay for this, because their property will never get a parking permit again and they’ll take a hit on their resale price. But that is one less car on our streets – forever. They can plant flowers in their little spot out front, pull out a chair, say hello to neighbours. The micro green space will also reduce sewer flooding and help reduce air pollution. It will improve neighbourliness and create an on-the-spot neighbourhood watch. Room for another street tree as well.
Walking is the way forward.
Is it too many cars, or too many people? If a person does not get into a car, it cannot move.
Would all of those wishing to ban cars, also like to include cars that have the word ‘TAXI’ on their roof?
I would say no, these people like to feel superior by not owning a car to promote their ‘green’ credentials, but are happy to use taxis! So who wants to listen to these hypocrites?
Watch any 1970’s TV programme and you will see wide streets with moving traffic, now thanks to TfL and medalling councillors, all you see is narrowed roads, full of bus/cycle lanes, traffic calming in all its various forms and the latest gimmick of turning roads into glorified 20mph cycle tracks.
Believe it or not, sometimes people want to leave London and drive to other parts of the country, not everybody is blessed with a continuous line of buses or underground system close to home, so much of Britain is only accessible by car.
Which includes most heritage houses and gardens, that could not survive if it was not for car visitors owing to their rural locations.
By all means encourage walking, but not to the detriment of people choosing another transport means.
Sorry to hear that a councillor’s lot is not a happy one, Caroline.
You sound really stressed out. W14 isn’t the best place to walk, even Holland Park. Have you thought of taking a trip out of London to Hertfordshire? There are several nice places where you can walk, and all within the M25 area. You will need to take a car to enjoy them, but worth the effort for the change of space.
Closer to home, have you considered that your family four-wheeler is great for shopping and protection from the elements? Unlike walking and using public transport, it can give you protection from the presence of inconsiderate people, like smokers, loud music lovers and mobile phone addicts. Why not just relax with a download of your choice?