Car free days redux ("Let the people plant their acorns.....
- EricYou are clearly aiming for a personal or list-purge on pessimissm (or pessimists). lets consider what can be done with individuals planting theri own small acorns.In the UK you can apply for a private street closure, and many streets which have managed to retain a sense of community are doing this, as are institutions: the world reknowned Glasgow School of Art now closes the street outside and has people strolling around, with music etc for their degree day viewings, the vastly improved ambience is leading others to consider doing likewise, and perhaps more than just a closure for the degree-day, why not one every month, and then since perhaps the local shop will do several £'000's worth of extra business (as the corner shop on Curtain Road did for the Shoreditch Triangle car free area last year - on its first happening) and soon you muight get a suggestion of closing a street at least once a week and ...hey it isn't really causing the chaos we expected, and people are actually enjoying it, and spending money etc...My real aim would be to see more events like the Seattle I-5 and Toronto Don Valley Parkway closures - London might close the M40 /Westway, Glasgow the M8 over the Kingston Bridge, as these roads can be closed and traffic diverted for road works - so why not a Sunday and turn the lot over to people powered travel - cycling, jogging, roller blading 6 to 8 lanes wide - Paris has done this with the city beach (although the real challenge might be the Peripherique).I reckon that there is a parallel conservatism in the thinking of those who run roads networks under strain from motor traffic overload, and those who run public transport - both very nervous about change - even a minor change (of fares or timetables) can make or break a company, and likewise even small changes like giving greater priority to the majority traffic (pedestrians) in town gives nightmares to those riding the Tiger. I have a Streube Cartoon from a wartime compendium quoting an Indian proverb "He who rides a tiger can never dismount" picturing Hitler riding the Tiger he has set on a course of war.
Many of those battling with congestion and mounting motor traffic levels are quite likely trapped in a programme they are frightened to abandon. Little, friendly measures like car free days are the way to slowly win them round, and provide the securing leash for their tiger with a set of steps to dismount, but be sure that each year moves forward with a little more challenge to make the event more memorable.Dave Holladay
Transportation Management Solutions - working with CTC on Public Transport Campaigns
CTC - The National Cyclists Organisation - Working for Cycling since 1878
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