Sunday, 25 September 2011

School lunch

In the Advertiser newspaper on Saturdays is a liftout called "Cars Guide". It contains mainly adverts for new and used cars but also has a couple of short articles about cars, which in truth are also adverts. In the 24 September issue was a stupid comment. The small article was about a concept car by Mercedes Benz called the F-125. The comment was:

We've come a long way, baby, even if Lycra-clad fundamentalists of the bicycle brigade would like us to go all the way back again.

It was a stupid comment for a variety of reasons. The first most obvious is that it is completely untrue. You can guarantee that nobody who dresses up in lycra to go for long weekend rides wants to be told they're not allowed to drive their car during the week. Others, like the Mayor of Adelaide, who suggest perhaps slowing cars down a bit and removing that particular source of danger from places where there are lots of people around equally do not suggest that cars be abolished and everyone somehow forced out of them. They're simply saying that perhaps devoting so much space to fast moving motor vehicles is not in everyone's interest. Crazy, I know.

Even if the comment was tongue in cheek, it was stupid.

One reason among many for encouraging alternatives to the car is that it is democratic. You have to be a particular age to drive a car and so a sizeable chunk of the population is ruled out, especially children. I cannot stand the sight of groups of cars clogging the streets outside our schools. Not only is it a complete waste of space, it is also very dangerous. If a driver does make a mistake, it is children who suffer. It is no surprise that parents do not wish to subject their children to that danger and so unsurprisingly they do what other parents do and drive their children to school.

There is, as we know, an alternative and it is not walking buses with mandatory reflective vests. This video was made by Joe Dunkley who publishes the excellent War on the Motorist blog. It is 2½ minutes of footage outside a primary school in Assen in the Netherlands. It is lunchtime and children are leaving to go home for lunch - almost all by themselves on their bike. They can do so because it is safe.

Note the left side of the screen though. Motorised traffic is still moving freely. There is no Lycra-clad fundamentalist stopping it or dragging people out of their cars. Making alternatives to the car easier has nothing to do with restricting motorists although a little bit of restriction would not go amiss in this city. Like the phrase says, it is about making the alternatives easier.

1 comment:

  1. The video speaks volumes - a woman with a child on the back, stops both lanes of traffic. Yet everyone is calm, patient and waits for her to get going.

    No shouting, expletives or calls in anger.

    A different world.