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reply to Scotsman article

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  • Simon Norton
    I don t think it should be too difficult to rebut the Scotsman article posted by Eric Britton. To some extent the very accusations of the author can be thrown
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 13, 2004
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      I don't think it should be too difficult to rebut the Scotsman article posted by
      Eric Britton.

      To some extent the very accusations of the author can be thrown back at him. The
      car lobby has said that cars increase freedom so often that it is generally
      accepted as truth. Our present government may say that it has accepted that one
      can't build one's way out of traffic problems, but it is still busy trying to do
      so. If they are trying out the "big lie" technique, it is by saying the above totry to convince the people at large that they are taking environmental concerns
      on board.

      I certainly don't regret the building of the "first" Forth Road Bridge. But that
      doesn't mean that there is any case for building a second.

      I was in Edinburgh for a conference this year. During this visit I made a
      leisure trip from Edinburgh to Bo'ness, returning via Queensferry. I nearly
      missed the last bus from Bo'ness because of traffic jams on the motorway caused
      by excessive traffic heading for the Forth Road Bridge. (Actually the direct
      cause was roadworks, but if we do build roads then it can be taken for granted
      that we will have to maintain them.)

      I am not sure whether the author is denying that building roads has led to more
      traffic -- someone certainly said in a recent letter to The Times that this was
      a fallacy -- or saying that this extra traffic was a good thing. If the former,
      I think it's in defiance of common sense. It is surely self evident that if the
      motorway network had not been built, most of the traffic that now uses it would
      either not be travelling at all or would have gone on the railways.

      Yes, it is reasonable for people who work in Edinburgh but who prefer not to
      live there to commute from outside -- unless the reason why they don't like
      living in the city is the volume of traffic to which they themselves contribute.
      But there is no reason why they can't commute by train. There are plenty of
      trains across the original Forth Bridge. Or they could use a bus -- unless, of
      course, the bus gets blocked by the cars of other commuters (as described
      above).

      It is also reasonable to assume that if cars hadn't siphoned off much of the
      market the public transport network would have developed to better meet people's
      needs. For an example in the same area where this hasn't happened, I invite
      anyone to plan a journey between Edinburgh Airport and Lanark. The latter is
      near a World Heritage Site which can be assumed to be a significant attractor of
      tourists. And yet its link to Scotland's capital city and main tourist centre is
      appalling.

      Whatever the author says, traffic is one of the greatest threats to our quality
      of life. I remember when I visited Prague in 1991 feeling that it was the first
      time for ages that I had enjoyed walking around a city. But I dare say that
      nowadays its traffic has grown so that it's no better than most cities in
      western Europe...

      For decades I was put off visiting my mother in her London flat by the fact that
      traffic noise went on till the small hours of the morning thereby preventing me
      from getting to sleep. If inability to sleep isn't a negative factor in one's
      quality of life I don't know what is.

      And I regard denial of climate change as unpardonable as Holocaust denial, which
      is a crime in some countries. As far as I am concerned, it's not a question of
      whether it will happen but how soon its effects will become uncontrollable. And
      while it is the author's privilege to disagree with me, surely if our side is
      right the effects will be so damaging that we should demand 100% proof before
      continuing on a "business as usual" scenario ?

      Simon Norton
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