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Help us defend your right to breathe


9:24 am - July 10th 2011

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contribtion by Andrew Tobert

London is addicted to the car. Take a walk through its centre and you’ll find two, three and four-lane motorways ripping into what should be vibrant urban communities. Parents no longer feel their children can walk to school, where they once played in the street, they’re now kept indoors.

The car has stolen my city, and now I want it back.

Across London, organisations are trying to make life easier for non-drivers, whether it’s to maintain the 20mph limit on Blackfriars bridge or remove the Stoke Newington gyratory. But individually, these local campaigns can only achieve so much. No one has ever manned the barricades in defence of a speed limit.

We need a holistic alternative vision that can inspire Londoners to see their city differently. We need to get cars out of central London. Completely.

I don’t mean increasing the congestion charge or some fussily-administered ban. I’m talking about widening the pavements on Oxford Street so that pedestrians have more room to shop. Or segregating a few traffic lanes so that people feel safe cycling on the road. You could even use a few (free) parking spaces if you felt brave.

The current design of London is not just unpleasant, it’s killing us. The mayor’s own figures show that 2500 Londoners lost their lives as a direct result of air pollution last year.

Going to school next to busy roads has been shown to cause everything from asthma to leukaemia yet in London, we subject the pupils of over 1000 schools to such a fate. Car addiction kills. We cannot condone murder.

Or destroy our economy. When New York’s transport commissioner, Sadik Khan, gave pedestrians in Times Square more space (at the expense of the car), 68% of retailers felt the effect was positive. When you replace parking spaces with bike lanes in residential areas, house prices go up. On shopping streets, swap in bike parking instead and they’ll generate 3.6 times more revenue.

Planning around the needs of people isn’t a sandal-wearing wet dream, it’s about creating wealth and saving public money (and lives), the kind of things governments and us are supposed to care about. It’s happening in cities from New York to Bogota, from The Netherlands to Beijing and I want London to be next

We know cars are toxic, we know they pollute the air, ruin our cities and kill jobs. Now let’s do something about it.

On the 13th July, Climate Rush are protesting against London’s toxic air, just one of the many consequences of car addiction. Please join us for a roadblock. Help us defend your right to breathe.

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Reader comments


1. Oliver Hutchings

“I don’t mean increasing the congestion charge or some fussily-administered ban.”

I don’t see why not, if it proves to be effective. What about the bollards that I’ve seen in Oxford and Cambridge? They prevent most traffic getting through, but buses and delivery vans etc. can have sensors fitted that make them sink into the ground. I’m not sure how practical they would be in London, mind you. This isn’t just a an issue in London anyway. The car has been replacing other means of transport at least since Dr Beeching’s stupid and short-sighted ‘reform’ of the railway network. Since then it seems to have become conventional wisdom that the motor car is the only practical basis for a transport system. That is what really needs to change.

Whilst I agree that towns need less cars in them, it won’t happen until the public transport systems are regular, reliable, cheap and most importantly accessible. I say accessible I don’t just mean wheelchair users but patents with pushchairs and shoppers with trolleys or tourists with suitcases. Until public transport is more user friendly the public will continue to use cars, no matter how unfriendly the roads become. It is much more comfortable to sit waiting in a nice warm car than at a cold wet bus stop.

3. Chaise Guevara

@ 2

“Whilst I agree that towns need less cars in them, it won’t happen until the public transport systems are regular, reliable, cheap and most importantly accessible”

Herein lies the problem: to seriously reduce car usage in a way that doesn’t just screw motorists over, you need to make cars less necessary to begin with. The fact that it’s now a lot less necessary to work in the same office as your colleagues might help, once our culture catches up with the tech, but either way you’re still looking at putting a LOT of investment into public transport before you do too much to make cars less convenient or affordable.

Tragically, Manchester tried this not so long ago (with a referendum on bringing in a congestion charge system while massively extending tram links) and failed, mainly because the No campaign appealed to voters’ wallets.

4. Mr S. Pill

@3

Yes but don’t forget Manchester also has two free buses that travel in and around the city centre (or it did the last time I was there). More innovations like that would be a good idea. The congestion charge is quite a blunt instrument for a nuanced problem – in London it makes sense, because they have the tube and incredibly frequent buses, other places need to follow suit.

I can’t even drive, and I hate Top Gear, but I quite like the idea of cars.

You talk about meeting ‘the needs of people’. Don’t cars meet the needs of people? Isn’t that why everyone either has a car or wants one?

Is it maybe you who is obstructing ‘the needs of people’ because you are scared of the modern world and the risks involved in progress?

6. Chaise Guevara

@ 4 Mr S. Pill

The free buses in Manchester, while wholly commendable, serve a very small area. I’ve lived in Manchester for seven years and never gotten on one.

I agree that the congestion charge is quite a heavy idea, and much could have been achieved by improving the tram network without charging people to drive into the city. However, in this case the government told Manchester that it would only provide funding for the tram project (which, as I’m sure you can appreciate, would have needed a massive initial outlay) if the city was able to subsidise it to an extent using a congestion charge. I’m honestly unsure whether they did that in the hope that the idea would be quashed without central government getting the blame. Big missed opportunity, anyway.

7. Chaise Guevara

@ 5 Tyrannyofthemajority

“You talk about meeting ‘the needs of people’. Don’t cars meet the needs of people? Isn’t that why everyone either has a car or wants one?”

They hardly meet the needs of the people perfectly, what with polluting the environment, running people over and being dependent on a finite resource. And people in general want non-toxic air.

“Is it maybe you who is obstructing ‘the needs of people’ because you are scared of the modern world and the risks involved in progress?”

Well, being only slightly older than the oldest living human, cars are no doubt a terrifyingly new technology. But no, I think the OP would like to reduce the risks and harm involved in progress, an option which appears not to have occurred to you. I don’t know what your definition of “progress” is, but mine would involve making sure there were fewer senseless deaths.

8. So Much For Subtlety

7. Chaise Guevara

They hardly meet the needs of the people perfectly, what with polluting the environment, running people over and being dependent on a finite resource. And people in general want non-toxic air.

Except all of those reasons for objecting to them are spurious except for the running people over thing. London’s air has got vastly better the more cars we have bought. There is no reason to think that the air won’t continue to get better. What is more, the health problems we do have tend to come from diesel particulates – which come from buses and trains more often than cars. Getting rid of the cars may well mean worse air quality. The finite resource argument is just a nonsense. As for running people over, it is true that cars do this. So do horses. You are at a greater risk on a bike than in a car. I am not even sure that is entirely due to the other cars either. China used to have a terrible traffic and accident problem with bicycles.

What is more you are not taking into account the positive benefits of cars. I for instance have both been rushed to hospital and taken someone else to hospital in a car. They are in fact life saving. If they are banned or restricted, it means fewer people getting the medical attention they need in time. Have you considered the impact of this as well?

But no, I think the OP would like to reduce the risks and harm involved in progress, an option which appears not to have occurred to you. I don’t know what your definition of “progress” is, but mine would involve making sure there were fewer senseless deaths.

But what risks and harms? How do you know your vision would reduce the number of senseless deaths? In the end, Britain just does not have the climate for bicycles and it does for cars. The roads are wet and slippery much of the year. Hence dangerous for people on bikes. You push more people to use them and you may well get more deaths from accidents. On the other hand you may get fewer heart attacks. A proper, sensible approach would try to consider as many factors as possible. Not simply say cars are evil – as the OP seems to.

Won’t roadblocks create more pollution?

@ 9:

“The finite resource argument is just a nonsense.”

Why? World oil supplies are predicted to run dry within a few decades, and cars run on oil. Why is it a nonsense to suggest that we need an alternative method of transportation?

Also, don’t forget that air pollution isn’t the only environmental problem that cars cause: there’s also noise pollution, congestion, and so on.

Sorry, should have been @ 8.

@8 In the car business then?

13. So Much For Subtlety

10. XXX

Why? World oil supplies are predicted to run dry within a few decades, and cars run on oil. Why is it a nonsense to suggest that we need an alternative method of transportation?

Because oil is almost certainly not going to run dry within a few years. What is more important, as it does, it will become more expensive, and at about $80 a barrel almost any other substitute becomes cost effective – shales, tar sands, oil-from-coal and so on. We are not at the end of the fossil fuel age. We are barely at the start.

Even if fossil fuels ran low, it is more likely that we would come up with some other form of fuel than give up cars. Algae perhaps. Remember that if alternative oil producers were paid what we pay at the petrol pump, virtually every alternative would be economic right now.

Also, don’t forget that air pollution isn’t the only environmental problem that cars cause: there’s also noise pollution, congestion, and so on.

As with horses. With added horse sh!t.

@ 13:

“As with horses. With added horse sh!t.”

Nobody’s suggesting that everybody who currently drives a car starts riding a horse instead, so I’m not sure what you’re trying to prove. What is being argued is that we should improve our public transport system. Transporting twenty people by bus causes less pollution (both air and noise) and less congestion than transporting those people in twenty cars.

15. Chaise Guevara

@ 8 SMFS

“Except all of those reasons for objecting to them are spurious except for the running people over thing. London’s air has got vastly better the more cars we have bought. There is no reason to think that the air won’t continue to get better.”

Correlation. Causation. Two different things.

While it is conceivably possible that increasing the number of machines that produce toxic gas would somehow improve the local air quality (one poison neutralising another, for example), it is extremely unlikely, especially as something that happens by accident. The burden of proof would be very much on your shoulders here.

“What is more, the health problems we do have tend to come from diesel particulates – which come from buses and trains more often than cars. Getting rid of the cars may well mean worse air quality.”

Obviously if a specific proposed solution to cars would have a worse human impact than cars, that proposal should be junked.

“The finite resource argument is just a nonsense.”

Um no, cars run on fossil fuels, which take millions of years to produce. This is a scientific fact, so calling it a “nonsense” is itself a nonsense. If you convert them to run on other fuels then they might stop being such a problem anyway, which changes the issue.

“As for running people over, it is true that cars do this. So do horses.”

Horses? What?

“You are at a greater risk on a bike than in a car. I am not even sure that is entirely due to the other cars either. China used to have a terrible traffic and accident problem with bicycles.”

This isn’t really related to what I said, but whatever: I don’t know the relative mortality rates from traffic accidents, but I’m willing to bet that they’re higher (per mile and per minute) in both an all-car scenario and a car-and-bike scenario than they are in an all-bike scenario.

Bikes have a habit of falling over. But the more serious injuries, at least on commuter paths, can be expected to come from cyclists either being hit by cars or falling over into the path of cars.

“What is more you are not taking into account the positive benefits of cars. I for instance have both been rushed to hospital and taken someone else to hospital in a car. They are in fact life saving. If they are banned or restricted, it means fewer people getting the medical attention they need in time. Have you considered the impact of this as well?”

I’m totally taking that into account. Taking cars off the road would mean ambulances could move a LOT faster, plus the NHS savings on treating accident injuries and breathing problems could be spent on more ambulances. I really don’t think cars are going to win the debate in terms of public health.

“But what risks and harms? How do you know your vision would reduce the number of senseless deaths? In the end, Britain just does not have the climate for bicycles and it does for cars.”

Why am I being asked to defend replacing cars with bikes? I said we should replace them with public transport. The bikes thing is your idea. Meanwhile, trains and trams have a much, much better safety record and health profile than cars, while buses suffer from the same problems but are more efficient in terms of the risk and pollution levels relative to number of passenger miles.

“A proper, sensible approach would try to consider as many factors as possible. Not simply say cars are evil – as the OP seems to.”

The OP gets a bit melodramatic in painting “the car” as an antagonist, I agree. But the fact remains that cars are dangerous and poisonous, and that a sensible strategy – considering all the factors – would seek to either replace them with something safe and clean, or make cars themselves safe and clean, within the confines of viability.

@ 8:

“In the end, Britain just does not have the climate for bicycles and it does for cars. The roads are wet and slippery much of the year. Hence dangerous for people on bikes.”

I’m sorry, but that’s just nonsense. I’ve ridden my bike in all kinds of weather, and I don’t ever recall the roads being too wet to cycle on safely. The only times when the roads have been unsafe to cycle on is when they were covered in ice — which is also dangerous to cars.

Strange article. Cars are already banned from most of Oxford street btw. Although they do encroach on bits of it and cross it. Because traffic coming up Park Lane has to get up Gloucester Place for example. Where else are you going to route it? Most of the traffic on Oxford street is buses and taxis. How do you think the hotels and all the businesses get supplied with all their goods and services?

Heavy traffic is a blight of course, but how do you move so many people around when people’s journeys are so complicated? People are often travelling suburb to suburb where connections are difficult and require changes of buses.
Also, having no traffic in central london would make it feel like a bit of a ghost town.
No traffic going around Piccadilly and down Haymarket? That would seem very odd. To quiet almost.

Park Lane without any traffic would seem very weird. How would all the people who use it now, make their journeys? All get on the underground? On buses which dont go where you actually want?

18. Dan Factor

Just seen this on Climate Rush’s website…

The Climate Rush Driving Authority.

Just goes to show how environemtalism has turned into authoritaranism.

If cars are so terrible why don’t you just campaign for them to be banned completly so that nobody can drive them anywhere?

“Car addiction kills. We cannot condone murder.”

All motorists are murderers then?

19. Leon Wolfson

“When you replace parking spaces with bike lanes in residential areas, house prices go up”

Driving housing prices up, which affects prices across the area to a degree, and making even less affordable is good…why? That’s a great argument for abolishing bike lanes, actually, afaik.

(And no, I don’t drive, it’s just that affordable housing is a much bigger issue than air polloution.)

20. Dan Factor

“When you replace parking spaces with bike lanes in residential areas, house prices go up”

The last thing we should be advocating is transport policy designed to make house prices go up.

21. Northern Worker

I don’t live in London but I have to go there sometimes. I’m going on Wednesday to a funeral at 4.00 pm, in fact. How will I travel? I’ll drive to a destination just inside the congestion charge zone. Obviously I pay the charge and I’ll probably have to pay a considerable amount to park. But as two of us are going, it’s a lot cheaper than the train by over £100. And it’s more convenient because we’ll be able to go to the ‘do’ and not worry about missing the last train and have to stay in a ridiculously expensive hotel (chain lodge £146 in charge zone).

I can understand how people in London feel – it’s hell. But for the UK as a whole cars account for eighty five per cent of passenger-miles and trains seven per cent (and the network is overloaded at that). As for bikes, we have an ageing population and many people cannot ride a bike because of infirmity. Besides, bikes are the most dangerous form of transport with more killed and injured per passenger-mile than even motorbikes!

@ 21:

“Besides, bikes are the most dangerous form of transport with more killed and injured per passenger-mile than even motorbikes!”

Really? That strikes me as somewhat dubious. Do you have a source?

“Besides, bikes are the most dangerous form of transport with more killed and injured per passenger-mile than even motorbikes!”

There has been a rise in accidents involving cyclists, but there has also been a rise in the number of people riding. It’s hard to find good figures comparing relative dangers, but that’s a mighty assertion you make there NW.

It’s also worth considering health benefits vs risk. Bikes make you fitter than driving a car.

I find inner London quite pleasant because it is so quiet compared to other places. Of course, the North Circular is horrible! I wonder how much can actually be done to fix the problem, though?

24. Leon Wolfson

@23 – Well, let me tell you how NOT to do it;

* Forcing poorer people out to the edges of towns, making them travel a lot more
* Removing local services, making people, especially poorer people, travel a lot more
* Allowing massive rises in the cost of public and mass transport

I could go on, but I’m sure you can see I’m just describing government policy.

25. Norther Worker
26. Charlieman

@21. Northern Worker: “Besides, bikes are the most dangerous form of transport with more killed and injured per passenger-mile than even motorbikes!”

I am not sure about your stats. Not about the raw stats, but about how people use bicycles. Who kills and injuries cyclists? Adults who fall off a bicycle rarely harm themselves much beyond a few grazes. It is the people who drive into cyclists that cause damage.

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 26

Precisely – bikes are dangerous because they are wobbly vehicles that offer zero protection and share the road with cars. This isn’t a problem with bikes, it’s a problem with bikes and cars, or with infrastructure.

I live in Manchester, which is a very flat town and should be great for cycling. However, I never cycle off of the back roads because bikes have to share their lanes with buses for the most part. It’s hard to think of two modes of transport less comfortable sharing a lane than a push-bike and a double-decker.

28. blackwillow1

Personally I tjhink we should just extend the chunnel, right up to the Scottish border. Surface terminals at various stages, linking to the existing railway network, a dual tunnel in fact, one north to south, one south to north. Mental idea, yeah, expensive, definitely. Worth considering? Yes, I believe it is.

29. So Much For Subtlety

14. XXX

Nobody’s suggesting that everybody who currently drives a car starts riding a horse instead, so I’m not sure what you’re trying to prove. What is being argued is that we should improve our public transport system. Transporting twenty people by bus causes less pollution (both air and noise) and less congestion than transporting those people in twenty cars.

Nobody is suggesting anything except that Cars Are Evil And Must Die. At some point we need to talk about sensible alternatives. I have no idea what is being suggested except some pointless tinkering at the edges. Buses are a good example of that. They are not a move away from petroleum or even from pollution, but just a re-arrangement of the same. I am not sure that is true of buses. It depends on the type of public transport. But even if it is so, you then add a whole range of other problems. Buses are aggregators. People have to wait to get enough of a critical mass. Personally I like waiting for buses. Most of the time. I don’t think I am in the majority. That loss of time and freedom is not nothing and must be counted too.

16. XXX

I’m sorry, but that’s just nonsense. I’ve ridden my bike in all kinds of weather, and I don’t ever recall the roads being too wet to cycle on safely. The only times when the roads have been unsafe to cycle on is when they were covered in ice — which is also dangerous to cars.

I am not sure your experience is proof of much. Have you been hit by a car? If not, can we conclude that no cyclist has ever been hit by a car? It is not hard to see London streets that are just too dangerous to ride on. Ice and snow are also problems. Accidents go up when it rains. People can’t see properly. There are vast puddles of water all over the place. The roads are more slippery – and it is a continuum not an off-on situation. Conditions that cars mostly deal with without problems or at least are vastly safer.

30. So Much For Subtlety

15. Chaise Guevara

Correlation. Causation. Two different things.

True. But in this case there is an undeniable causation brought about by more wealth, more scientific knowledge, more regulations. The fact that we know more about preventing pollution *and* we can afford not only more cars but also cleaner cars (thus achieving economies of scale that make both more affordable) means air quality is increasing. China and India have few cars and very poor air quality. Because they are too poor for both.

While it is conceivably possible that increasing the number of machines that produce toxic gas would somehow improve the local air quality (one poison neutralising another, for example), it is extremely unlikely, especially as something that happens by accident. The burden of proof would be very much on your shoulders here.

The burden of proof is so trivial it hardly matters. And most of what cars produce is not toxic per se. At least not at normal concentrations. However the amount of unwanted gases produced is not fixed. They have steadily decreased per car and will probably continue to do so.

Obviously if a specific proposed solution to cars would have a worse human impact than cars, that proposal should be junked.

You would think wouldn’t you? But pretty much everything Greenpeace wants would worsen the human condition and that has not stopped them yet. What drives this is not humans, but something else.

Um no, cars run on fossil fuels, which take millions of years to produce. This is a scientific fact, so calling it a “nonsense” is itself a nonsense. If you convert them to run on other fuels then they might stop being such a problem anyway, which changes the issue.

The origins of fossil fuels remains a little bit controversial. These resources are not finite on a time scale we need to care about. They might stop being such a problem. Or they might be more of one. Who knows? What we can say is that there is presently no foreseeable time when we will not have enough fuel.

This isn’t really related to what I said, but whatever: I don’t know the relative mortality rates from traffic accidents, but I’m willing to bet that they’re higher (per mile and per minute) in both an all-car scenario and a car-and-bike scenario than they are in an all-bike scenario.

I wonder about that. The car-and-bike is probably a no-brainer, but these days the bike-on-bike versus car-on-car is by no means so. However most people only use bikes in the best weather. When it gets dangerous they drive or take a bus. Banning cars will force more marginal and dangerous uses.

It is relevant to that whole human impact thing. If we kill more people on the roads trying to save some from lung cancer, we have not made the world better.

Bikes have a habit of falling over. But the more serious injuries, at least on commuter paths, can be expected to come from cyclists either being hit by cars or falling over into the path of cars.

I agree about cars. But bikes also hit telephone pole, traffic lights, bollards, walls, each other. In fact almost anything. Bikes not only have a habit of falling over, they also have a habit of getting away from the rider and not stopping in time. Bikes are inherently dangerous.

Taking cars off the road would mean ambulances could move a LOT faster, plus the NHS savings on treating accident injuries and breathing problems could be spent on more ambulances. I really don’t think cars are going to win the debate in terms of public health.

I think they will because ambulances will not necessarily move a lot faster. Clogging the roads with bikes does not allow for fast moving ambulances. Especially if you start to do what they have done in Oxford and close roads, make them one way, redirect traffic and so on. Ambulances do not move fast in Oxford. The NHS might fight for fewer lives, but the number of treatable accidents can only go up – people falling off bikes or smacking into each other need medical attention too. Cars will trivially win any debate on public health.

Why am I being asked to defend replacing cars with bikes? I said we should replace them with public transport. The bikes thing is your idea. Meanwhile, trains and trams have a much, much better safety record and health profile than cars, while buses suffer from the same problems but are more efficient in terms of the risk and pollution levels relative to number of passenger miles.

I would be interested to see the evidence of that better safety record and health profile. Trams and bikes on the same road is a nightmare by the way. Nor am I convinced buses necessarily do better.

But the fact remains that cars are dangerous and poisonous, and that a sensible strategy – considering all the factors – would seek to either replace them with something safe and clean, or make cars themselves safe and clean, within the confines of viability.

Cars are not all that dangerous and they are certainly not poisonous. By all means we ought to work to make them safer and cleaner. As we have been doing and as we shall no doubt continue to do. But I don’t think we need to get rid of them. Nor will we.

31. Chaise Guevara

@ 30 SMFS

“True. But in this case there is an undeniable causation brought about by more wealth, more scientific knowledge, more regulations.”

This is all true, but it hardly backs your suggestion that more cars means less air pollution. Better cars means less air pollution.

Yes, wealth makes it possible for use to research ways to combat pollution (although it also brought us most of that pollution in the first place), and cars have helped us to become wealthy. I wouldn’t advocate a solution that would cripple our economy. As I said before, a solution that would make things worse is not a solution.

“The burden of proof is so trivial it hardly matters. And most of what cars produce is not toxic per se. At least not at normal concentrations.”

Rubbish. I’m not saying that breathing in the fumes from a passing car will make you keel over there and then, but prolonged exposure can easily kill you: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/369169.stm .

I hope this isn’t leading to an argument along similar lines to the passive smoking thing, where you exploit the fact that exact causes of individual deaths are hard to prove to claim that “there is no solid evidence that car fumes are bad for you”.

“You would think wouldn’t you? But pretty much everything Greenpeace wants would worsen the human condition and that has not stopped them yet. What drives this is not humans, but something else.”

Well, I’m not here to support knee-jerk, feel-good “green” policies that would do more harm than good. Creating a broad, reliable and affordable public transport network, however, would be a brilliant investment for the future.

“The origins of fossil fuels remains a little bit controversial. These resources are not finite on a time scale we need to care about.”

Source please.

“They might stop being such a problem. Or they might be more of one. Who knows? What we can say is that there is presently no foreseeable time when we will not have enough fuel.”

No, what we can say is that we don’t know when it will happen. Running out of petrol-grade oil (or, more precisely, letting reserves get so low that using them to fuel cars is economically unviable) is easily foreseeable.

“I wonder about that. The car-and-bike is probably a no-brainer, but these days the bike-on-bike versus car-on-car is by no means so.”

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how you’re coming to this conclusion. Cars weigh hundreds of pounds and travel far faster than bikes. If a car hits a pedestrian, or another car, the damage is likely to be far greater than if a cyclist hits a pedestrian or bike. And that’s just looking at accidents, not pollution.

“However most people only use bikes in the best weather. When it gets dangerous they drive or take a bus. Banning cars will force more marginal and dangerous uses.”

Fair point. However, I’m not advocating banning cars! I’m advocating restricting their use in some areas (either by charging tolls or restricting certain roads to buses, taxis, ambulances etc.) and replacing them with public transport. Bike usage would always be optional.

“I agree about cars. But bikes also hit telephone pole, traffic lights, bollards, walls, each other. In fact almost anything. Bikes not only have a habit of falling over, they also have a habit of getting away from the rider and not stopping in time. Bikes are inherently dangerous.”

Ditto cars, except they’re faster, heavier and harder to steer out of the way.

“I think they will because ambulances will not necessarily move a lot faster. Clogging the roads with bikes does not allow for fast moving ambulances.”

Bikes take up way, way less room than cars. So your claim is incorrect. Ever seen an ambulance mired because twenty cars are trying to pull over and get out of its way? Wouldn’t happen with bikes.

“Especially if you start to do what they have done in Oxford and close roads, make them one way, redirect traffic and so on. Ambulances do not move fast in Oxford.”

I’m not arguing for Oxford either.

“The NHS might fight for fewer lives, but the number of treatable accidents can only go up – people falling off bikes or smacking into each other need medical attention too.”

So what? What’s worse, one death or three bruised ribs?

“Cars will trivially win any debate on public health.”

Utter bollocks. They’re poisonous and dangerous to you and those around you. Bikes are clean, probably less dangerous, and using them is good exercise. At this point you appear to be demanding reality change to fit your apparent love for automobiles.

“I would be interested to see the evidence of that better safety record and health profile. Trams and bikes on the same road is a nightmare by the way. Nor am I convinced buses necessarily do better.”

Will look this up when not at work, if the thread’s still around and someone else doesn’t beat me to it.

“Cars are not all that dangerous and they are certainly not poisonous.”

But they are made from the bones of children, and run on the blood of kittens…

…Sorry, I just thought that if you were going to tell blatant lies I might as well too. Cars aren’t poisonous? Christ. I suppose they also have no wheels and can speak French. As in the other thread, it’s a bit annoying when you get in this mood where you refuse to accept basic facts. Rather trollish, actually.

“By all means we ought to work to make them safer and cleaner. As we have been doing and as we shall no doubt continue to do. But I don’t think we need to get rid of them. Nor will we.”

Who says we should?

one burns money and makes you fat, one burns fat and saves you money. h/t howies

@ SMFS:

“Nobody is suggesting anything except that Cars Are Evil And Must Die. At some point we need to talk about sensible alternatives.”

We are talking about sensible alternatives, namely public transport.

“Buses are a good example of that. They are not a move away from petroleum or even from pollution,”

Given that one bus carrying 40 people will use less petrol and cause less pollution than 40 cars each carrying one person, I’m not sure how you can claim this.

“That loss of time and freedom is not nothing and must be counted too.”

It’s not nothing, but it’s still outweighed by the loss of pollution, congestion, decreased use of oil…

“I am not sure your experience is proof of much.”

It’s proof either that I’m extremely lucky, or that I’m an extremely good cyclist, or that the chances of being injured on a bicycle are way less than you’re implying. On the whole, I think option (3) seems more likely than options (1) and (2), at least until you can bring some evidence which might lead us to reject it.

“But bikes also hit telephone pole, traffic lights, bollards, walls, each other. In fact almost anything. Bikes not only have a habit of falling over, they also have a habit of getting away from the rider and not stopping in time.”

So do cars. And cars, being vastly larger and more heavy, do far more damage when this happens than bikes do.

“Bikes are inherently dangerous.”

Not particularly, as long as you use them sensibly.


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