Thursday, 22 June 2017

Yes, Mr Mayor

The Mayor of London has just published his Transport Strategy: Draft for Public Consultation. It’s a document from which any town or city in the UK, and many further afield, could draw lessons. 

As an example, here’s an extract from the Mayor’s Foreword where I have removed the word ‘London’, so that you can substitute the name of your own town or city where the following appears ******.

“Car dependency has contributed to an increase in poor public health across our city. Streets can often be polluted, congested and dangerous – unwelcoming places to walk or cycle. Tube, rail and bus services can be overcrowded and sometimes unreliable and indirect, meaning there is no appealing alternative to car use for many. And some parts of ****** have been planned around car use for so long that there are no decent alternatives.

To begin to resolve these problems, ****** must become a city where walking, cycling and green public transport become the most appealing and practical choices for many more journeys. These active and sustainable transport choices not only support the health and wellbeing of ******ers, but also the city as a whole by reducing congestion and providing the most efficient use of valuable street space.”

Use the link above to get to a summary report, or download the whole thing.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Only in America

No, not Donald Trump, but, on a related topic, this t-shirt, seen in the lounge car of the California Zephyr westbound from Chicago this summer. Not only has the National Rifle Association appropriated the great British ‘Keep Calm’ meme, but they have transformed it into a gun-supporting slogan. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, not just carry a gun, but guns, plural. How many guns can each of us carry? And how can there ever be enough? Keep calm? I don’t think so….

Thursday, 14 April 2016

“The Revolution…Will Not Be Driverless”

Amid all the hype about autonomous/self-driving cars, here’s a corrective from Christian Wolmar, writing in the New Statesmen. As Wolmar says, the danger is that seeing driver-free cars as a panacea risks diverting attention from the urgent task of improving public transport…and getting people out of their cars. Which would be better for all of us.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

RIP David Bowie: Rock’s Only Genius

I’d always thought that if David Bowie had a spiritual home town in the UK it would be Brighton. He only played here twice, both times during the hectic Ziggy Stardust period – he landed at Brighton Dome on 14th February 1972 and 23rd May 1973. Brighton is the place in the UK that seems to be about the closest you’ll get to what Bowie stood for – fluidity, tolerance, eclecticism, quirkiness, hedonism, iconoclasm. So I’ve been surprised by the apparent lack of visible reaction to his death. Maybe it’s the youth of the population? Maybe you had to have been there - the 70s – to really get what he meant. Maybe we take it all for granted nowadays. Anyhow, here’s the only tribute I have spotted, in a bookshop window in the North Laine. And here’s a (not very good) photo I took at the Station to Station gig at Wembley. Post-Ziggy, but equally memorable. David Bowie: Brixton, 8.1.1947 to New York, 10.1.2016. The Thin White Duke has gone but he will not be forgotten. 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Thought for the Day

Here’s a thought for bus-lane haters. According to Enrique Amorosa, if everyone is equal in the face of the law, a bus carrying 80 passengers has a right to 80 times the road space of those 80 people in cars.

Monday, 4 January 2016

New Year’s Resolutions and Uber Futures

It’s that time of year when change is in the air, best intentions are dusted off, and commitments are made. Stuff like: spend less, get fit, lose weight, walk or bike more. That sort of thing. Some have probably been broken already, despite the reams of media coverage designed to help overcome the human weaknesses that frequently get in the way of our best intentions. Readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear that the nearest thing to a magic bullet for achieving the resolutions listed above is: don’t own a car. Which for the majority of us, who live in urban areas, is a lot easier than it might seem. And it’s getting even easier: a significant bit of news on Christmas Eve was taxi ride service Uber announcing that it had completed its billionth ride worldwide. A fortuitous figure in the context of its current fund-raising round, the news means that app-driven personalised transport now offers a viable alternative to car ownership in many cities around the world (Uber isn’t the only game in town). Why bother with all the hassle of car ownership when you can summon up a ride at the touch of a smartphone? Closer to home, Uber has been given permission to operate in Brighton and Hove for a year (the normal licence runs for five years, and Uber will have to demonstrate that it follows the usual rules set out for Brighton and Hove taxis). Combined with the existing options of car hire, car clubs, biking (bike hire scheme in the pipeline), walking and public transport, the list of reasons for Brightonians and Hovistas to own a car is getting shorter. Which ought to help with those New Year Resolutions.