• Car Congestion and Pollution
• Cycle Quiet Ways and Green Streets
• Facts –
▪ How many of us own cars?
▪ The Tax angle
▪ Harm from cars
▪ Solving the problems
▪ The idea – What are Green or Healthy Streets?
▪ The Basic Argument
▪ Solutions - Quiet-ways
▪ Walking and Cycling
Facts - Cars, Pollution & Problems
Fossil fuel & CO2 emissions threaten our health and safety. More people are being diagnosed and dying each year from asthma brought on from air pollution. We need a carbon neutral alternative and we need it as soon as possible. That’s why TFL have made walking and cycling 1st and 2nd priority.
The car has squeezed itself into every nook and cranny of our lives and having insinuated itself onto every road in existence, it continues to squeeze out other road users, making it less and less possible for anyone outside of a car to use the roads in safety.
Cars are pumping out poisons, screaming by at lethal speeds and cluttering every road, pavement and many cycle lanes. They are alternately dangerous, poisonous or in the way. All of this puts off potential cyclists.
HYPERLINK "http://www.landscapearchitecture.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/cycling_joy_in_chicago.jpg" Urban cycling can be a joy - as in Chicago[/caption]
How many of us own cars?
In 2016, London’s car population rose by 170,000.
Official guesstimates suggest there are about 27 million households in the UK and about 31 million cars.
In broad terms, a quarter of households don’t have a car, 45 per cent have one car, a quarter have two cars, and the remaining five percent have three or more cars. Do the maths.
So about 61 per cent – or 19 million of the cars on UK roads – are the family’s 2nd 3rd or 4th car.
20 Million people own cars, and 45 Million people do not own cars.
This means more than two thirds do not own cars. So, car owners may be majority of households, but they are a minority of the people.
The Tax angle
Drivers do not pay for the roads, though having paid a lot of money for their cars, seek to be treated with special privilege when it comes to road use.
Road tax doesn't exist. It's car tax, a tax on cars and other vehicles, not a tax on roads or a fee to use them. Motorists do not pay directly for the roads.
In 1926, Winston Churchill started the process to abolish road tax. It was finally culled in 1937.
So, who does pay for the roads? We all do.
Roads are paid for out of general taxation; thus a child buying a sweet somewhere along the line, is paying for the roads. And yet, it is car drivers that make roads dangerous and unpleasant for everyone else.
Roads without cars don’t get damaged.
Bicycle only roads, needing less upkeep, cost less and last longer, with the added bonus of healthy people costing the NHS less.
Harm from cars
We have an understandable love affair with cars, but the harm that cars do is massive and accepted as inevitable. The use and manufacture, the sheer clutter on every road, the uglification of our surroundings, an unbroken stream of vehicles running through every scene, bringing noise and danger at every turn, raising chronic asthma and occasional sudden death (about 3000 times a year), not to mention all the greenhouse gases, CO1, CO2, NO2, habitat destruction & climate change! For all the convenience they bring, the negatives are long term and overwhelming.
Pollution is appalling and most cycle lanes are right next to busy traffic which is constantly pumping out poisonous fumes and particulates. The media just published figures that are breath-taking: 29,000 deaths a year in London are attributable to traffic pollution. This is equivocal to a humanitarian disaster.
Cars create toxic fumes and cyclists and pedestrians are forced to breathe in this polluted air. It is actually illegal to ask anyone to breath that air!
Planes, helicopters, lorries, cars, boom boxes, bass heads, building construction work, police sirens & TV; it’s all loud. We live in an increasingly noisy world, a non-stop cacophony accompanies every moment of our lives. If you need to raise your voice to be heard 3 feet away, the noise level is damaging you hearing; in a factory you would, by law, have to wear noise surpressing ear protectors yyet every road is louder than that. It has been shown to be stressful to the point where it produces cancers, poor memory and dementia. Cars are a major part of that noise. Greenery soaks up noise, the more greenery, the less noise, the less noise the less cancers etc. Also people don’t walk, because there are few places to go that are nice and quiet. So faced with horroble exteriours we stay inside.
Health: Perhaps the most serious problem created by sound pollution is the impact it has on our health. Because sound pollution can trigger the body’s stress response, one of its major health effects is chronic stress and the high levels of stress hormones that go with it. As a result, noise pollution has also been linked with health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. It’s also been linked with musculoskeletal problems, as a Cornell University study on office noise found that those working in noisy office environments can also be less likely to ergonomically adjust their workstations for comfort, which can contribute to physical problems. Noise pollution can also impact sleep quality by preventing sleep and disrupting sleep cycles. And, perhaps most significantly, because chronic stress can lower your immunity to all disease, noise pollution is a general threat to health and wellness.
To help cycling become a viable alternative to the car and become the main preferred method of
getting from A to B, it needs to be an absolutely and demonstrably safe alternative to driving for all.
Be it men, women, children, the old, the frail, the timid, the bold and the young fit cycle warrior.
Safety is paramount and to achieve this, investments would need to be made.
There have been many suggestions about what needs to be done however most are just tweaking the problem when what we really need is a complete re-evaluation of who gets to use the roads.
Is the car still the ruler of the road? Is it time for a change? I think so.
SOLVING THOSE PROBLEMS:
Cycling & CO2
Transport accounts for about 50% of the CO2 we can get control of in our cities.
If we want to be safe in the future, we can't use the oils we have now, let alone that which fracking etc can provide. Oil fuelled vehicles must be used less.
We need now, and have for a very long time needed, a carbon negative economy. Car free routes would provide a truly viable alternative.
If the Government were really serious about reducing CO2 emissions, it would make it enjoyable to walk and safe for all cyclists to use the roads.
Therefore, the Government must make it safe for my 80 years old mother and my 5 year old daughter to cycle. Otherwise, my mum will continue to drive and I will be forced to drive my children, because I don't want them killed on the roads.
Achieving this is actually quite easy, but it's scary for government and councils, because it's a big change in the accepted way of doing things and the car lobby is strong and organised. Politicians fear voters will not vote for those who threaten car use.
The idea - What are Green or Healthy Streets?
To create a network of car free roads right around London - and the whole country.
Imagine roads as parks. Imagine these roads with no cars and children playing in safety. People extending their gardens into the roads, growing vegetables and fruits. Imagine the buried rivers brought back to the surface.
Imagine benches under trees where people can sit out and enjoy the peace and calm. All around is green and verdant and rich with life. The air will become cleaner as plants grow. People will become healthier physically and mentally.
The streets become, not a conduit for cars, but a space for people to live and thrive in.
This plays into the Healthy Streets, Linear Park and London as National Park ideas.
Picture is from http://content.tfl.gov.uk/healthy-streets-for-london.pdf
Roads into parks.
I do recognise that this will take time to achieve, but it is the ultimate goal.
The Basic Argument
Cycling has many benefits. It can be a positive elixir; a simple solution to so many problems. Imagine, if you will, you want to travel to your mum’s house 5 miles away: Your group includes your 85 year old grandparents and 5 year old child. Normally you all go in cars, because gramps doesn't like the bus, walking is too far and cycling on those busy roads is simply madness. However, in this story, you all get on bicycles and cycle the whole way along quiet, car free, leafy avenues, only stopping at junctions, to let the cross traffic pass. You arrive calm, relaxed, healthy, happier, fitter and unharmed, sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?
"Ok, nice story, but that won't happen", I hear you say. Well, let's not write it off, quite so quickly.
The Healthy Streets initiative from Sadiq Khan's office is basically this, but without stopping cars. There are many advantages to car free roads and many are very seductive.
There are a lot of road users who presently can't use the roads safely; they include equestrians, dog carts, walkers, cats, stall holders, street food sellers, kids playing.
It must be remembered just how exclusive roads for cars have become.
We can combine all the various Quiet-Ways, Healthy Streets, Open Streets, cycle routes, unused back streets, parks and abandoned railways and stitch them into a network of calm, green corridors, for non- drivers.
Solutions - Quiet-ways
Things work best when they are community led and not imposed. I suggest we could start by finding roads with the fewest car owners, proposing the idea and letting communities volunteer their roads, then see how they could be connected. Ask, advertise and explain the advantages with gentle persuasion.
Even though we do have a pressing ecological imperative, we may need to offer incentives and encouragement. Although, as these pilots begin, people will become more aware, even envious and want their streets to be as nice as those with Healthy Streets (similar to the Play Street Orders where local roads in Hackney had regular closures for children to be able to play out after school wp.hackneyplay.org).
‘Quiet-way’ is a Transport for London (TfL) idea. Most of them are old London Cycle Network routes with new signs and a few minor improvements, slightly less cars use them. The name is lovely.
[caption id="attachment_3418" align="alignnone" width="1000"] HYPERLINK "http://www.landscapearchitecture.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/garden_street_vauxhall.jpg" INCLUDEPICTURE "http://www.landscapearchitecture.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/garden_street_vauxhall.jpg" \d Green streets are great for cycling - and for living. They can also have space for car parking (Vauxhall, London)[/caption]
ITS SAFE FOR OUR CHILDREN.
Quality of life
This scheme would bring calm and joy and safety to so many people, that, that alone should be enough. But the real pay back will be in many years’ time ...
It is obvious that we all value our health and that the NHS has to fork out billions to help us when we are sick, but if we did have a greener, car free, cycle network we would walk and cycle more.
How many times have we wanted to go out but don’t because, well where would we go? It’s all a built environment, its brash & dull and isn’t a nice place to walk.
Walking and cycling more will keep us fitter and that means we won't have to visit our GP’s quite so much. So, there would be a clear cost reduction in healthcare for the State and financial benefit to households.
Plants Can Reduce Air Pollution in Cities by 60%,
The study reports that levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, both hazardous to humans, were lowered by 40 and 60 percent, respectively.
Wellbeing studies carried out by the NHS have shown that living near green spaces has a definite, positive and measurable impact on our health. Green walking & cycle networks would bring green space closer to all of us and we would all benefit from this.
This also will reduce NHS costs significantly.
Desirable living spaces
People would like to live on these new cycle routes. Indeed, it could actually make the houses on those roads worth a lot more than those on the infernal combustion routes.
The quieter, greener roads would be lovely places to live and work as well as places for walkers and cyclists to travel through.
Most of us would opt for those homes in quieter streets, instead of those on busy routes, it would certainly increase the value of those homes.
Several studies nationwide suggest that gardens and green space might help to lower crime rates. In San Francisco’s Mission District, crimes dropped 28 percent after a community garden led to the formation of a neighbourhood watch group. In Chicago, professors Frances Kuo and William Sullivan compared crime rates among 98 apartment buildings in a public housing project. They found buildings with high levels of vegetation had 52 percent fewer crimes than buildings with low levels.
There are 10 Healthy Streets Indicators:
• Pedestrians from all walks of life -
London's streets should be welcoming places for everyone to walk, spend time in and engage in community life.
• People choose to walk, cycle and use public transport. A successful transport system enables more people to walk and cycle more often.
• Clean air
Improving air quality delivers benefits for everyone and reduces unfair health inequalities.
• People feel safe
The whole community should feel comfortable and safe on our streets at all times. People should not feel worried about road danger.
• Not too noisy
Reducing the noise impacts of traffic will directly benefit health and improve the ambience of our streets.
• Easy to cross
Making streets easier to cross is important to encourage more walking and to connect communities.
• Places to stop and rest
A lack of resting places can limit mobility for certain groups of people.
• Shade and shelter
Providing shade and shelter enables everybody to use our streets, whatever the weather.
• People feel relaxed. More people will walk or cycle, if our streets are not dominated by motor traffic, and if pavements and cycle paths are not overcrowded, dirty or in disrepair.
• Things to see and do
People are more likely to use our streets when their journey is interesting and stimulating, with attractive views, buildings, planting and street art.
There are many types of filtering, a simple one is bollards across the road; wheel chairs, walkers and cyclists can pass, but not cars.
This allows for green streets.
Access for cars
Cul-de-sac’s, no through roads.
No one should be stopped from getting to their homes or stopped from parking close to their homes.
The main thing that would change is that vehicles could only enter and leave from one end of a green street.
This would give us all access.
Where we cannot prevent through traffic, chicanes can be used as in this image.
Green Cycling Routes would not all be totally car free. Although ‘no cars’ is the goal, presently we still need parking space. GCNs could accommodate substantial and convenient car parking. Providing more car clubs and secure cycle pods would reduce the need to own a car.
Councils and Governments can offer inducements.
What if we need to get an ambulance to your home?
On many roads, this won't be a problem. For places where there is a risk all accident & emergency services vehicles already have the standard key.
Walking and Cycling
Encouraging cycling is as much psychological as anything else.
Cycling is dangerous; If we think were not safe, that’s it, we won’t cycle.
Quietways are a step in the right direction true, but any moving vehicle represents a threat, if it touches you or your child’s bike, it will send a body flying.
Close scrapes terrify and injure and dissuade people from cycling.
Are Quiet-Way’s safe?
Is your child safe on a Quiet-Way? No.
The danger that a car or lorry presents to a human on a bicycle is obvious. The painted lines used to make most UK cycle lanes will not stop drivers whose attention wanders from ploughing through cyclists. The same applies to raised kerbs. Would you let your 5-year-old use a typical UK cycle lane? Would you even think them safe on Cycle Superhighway or Quietway? No? Me neither.
Pootling vs Warrior Mode Cycling
The joys of cycling include pootling, meandering and taking it easy. This is not something you can do on dangerous cycle routes where you need to be in ‘warrior mode’ all the time. Powered vehicles are a threat to walkers and cyclists. How can one relax and enjoy the scenery when you are constantly at risk of being knocked down? Fear discourages cycling.
Would anyone be forced to cycle?
Certainly not. You can still drive your car, hopefully an electric Zip car, from your house and park it by your friend’s house just as before, it's just that some roads would be for cyclists and walkers alone to travel through.
Something has to change.
London pollution levels are going through the roof (latest London news report 18th Oct 2017).
We need to make walking and cycling car free and safe.
London needs a network of streets to become ecologically sound, healthy living spaces, not car conduits.
Quality of life would rise and CO2 emissions would drop.
Road repair would fall, as would the costs to the NHS.
Green, Car Free Routes, as suggested above and supported by Sadiq Khan are visions of Healthy Streets.
All of this is not only nessecary but entirly possible.