Time for change, but will we?

When I was growing up in Lincoln in the 1950s, most people cycled, walked or caught the bus to work, few had cars. Cycling was safe. There was no air pollution, once the old coal-powered gasworks closed.

Even ten years later, when I visited Lincoln in the 1960s, the main route into town was beginning to be clogged with cars. Another decade and cycling was becoming a thing of the past. It was becoming dangerous, particularly as lorries got bigger and bigger.

Of course this pattern recurred in towns and cities all over the UK, and air pollution became endemic, particularly when there was the ill-advised shift to diesel fuels. The car was king and all bowed before it. Air became polluted and there was a surge in cases of asthma. Strangely, government did little about it, although some cities did a fair amount, within their allowed powers.

Then came covid-19 and lockdown. Suddenly air was clean, roads were quiet, it was safe to cycle. People were exhorted to cycle or walk and avoid cars and public transport. It was like the 1950s again.

Of course the natural reaction of government is to try to re-establish the status quo ante, because that was when the economy ‘worked’. But it didn’t – see inequality, polluted air, climate breakdown and covid.

So we really do need to take stock and set course for a more sensible world that is based on real needs of people and nature, not just on ‘the economy.’ All the ideas are there – green new deals, basic income, move to renewable energy, sovereign money,…

We just need to get on with it. But will we?

Photo of Lincoln High Street near St Peter’s from Francis Frith website – go visit.

 

Drivers lacking courtesy

There’s nothing like having two grandchildren with you, one in a pushchair, to realise just how rude and discourteous are many drivers in the north west of England. Within a few days we have had drivers

  • totally ignore us on a zebra crossing
  • drive across in front of us at traffic lights when the pedestrian ‘green man’ was showing
  • drive at speed within a few feet on a wet and rainy Knutsford high street, splashing pedestrians
  • drive down narrow high street past people with a pushchair waiting in the heavy rain, rather than let them cross.

This is not to mention the ignorant who insist on driving with windows open and playing loud music, the ignorant who driver large flashy cars and make as much noise with their exhaust as possible, the drivers who speed through crowded shopping streets at over 30mph, including the anecdotal case of a well known Liverpool footballer driving along the pavement at 40mph while laughing…

Let’s not go too far – most drivers are considerate and courteous; it is a minority who appear to consider the pedestrian an inferior species.

Our experience of drivers in USA (Houston) is actually much more positive. Much greater courtesy is extended on non-major roads if a driver even senses that you might be about to cross.

Wake up, drivers. Being in that metal box is no excuse for bad behaviour.

Featured image by Secretlondon via Wikimedia Commons