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.
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.
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.