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.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Walkability - the new name of the game for US cities

Walkability – US realtors want more, because punters want more of it. According to thisarticle in today’s Huffington Post. A wake-up call for politicians, policy makers, urban planners and transport planners.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

"Secret of staying fit and healthy is ditching the car and eating homemade meals."

Or so said the headline to a report in the Daily Telegraph a couple of days ago. It sounds like the kind of thing this blog has been saying for quite a while now. But if it’s now in the Telegraph…All based on pukka studies, as you can see here.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Carfree: Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of HM Opposition

There are many extra-ordinary things about Jeremy Corbyn, recently elected leader of Britain’s Labour Party, and hence, Leader of HM Opposition: his support for nuclear disarmament and opposition to renewing Trident, his failure to endorse ‘austerity-lite’, his campaign against the Iraq war, his election to the Labour leadership with 59% of the vote, his ranking as the MP with the lowest expenses claim (although somebody has to be at number 650 on that list), and his choice of attire. Almost as remarkable, and rather less remarked upon, is that he does not own a car (according to Wiki and the Financial Times). 

As the FT article notes,

“When not attending rallies, constituency meetings and picket lines, Corbyn likes to tend to his allotment, make jam, eat cheese and read about railways. He seldom drinks and does not own a car, preferring to cycle. He is also a keen photographer of manhole covers.” (apparently, as long as they were installed by public sector bodies).

What we do not know is whether this is because Jeremy Corbyn is a Rational Economic Man. Has Mr Corbyn applied the textbook nostra of the Standard Economic Model, carried out a cost-benefit analysis and decided that the downside of owning a car (cost, hassle, risk) outweighs the upside (convenience, some of the time). Does he just prefer to be on his bike or on foot? Perhaps he has he never learned to drive – it’s a useful life skill, as there are times when it’s hard to find an alternative to using a car. You just don’t have to own one. Is it because, as a man of the people, Mr Corbyn sees car ownership, life in a box on wheels, as insulating him from the rest of  humanity?  Or maybe it’s a refusal to be part of oil-fuelled corporate capitalism, with its oil dependency, resource wars and implications for foreign policy.

Whatever the answer, it’s hard to believe that there has been any other Leader of the Opposition since the Second World War who hasn’t owned a car. So is the carfree Mr Corbyn hopelessly out of touch? Or ahead of the curve? (picture: Wikipaedia)