The independent London newspaper

Cars are not the be all and end all…

14 September, 2017

• THE Alliance of British Drivers’ Brian Macdowall tells us (Drivers’ woe, September 7) that as drivers benefit from using their cars the rest of us should put up with them. The logic of this escapes me.

Surely the car is unique in the extent to which it has taken over our public space, so that even those who don’t use them suffer from the pollution, danger, noise, visual intrusion, climate change emissions and social isolation they cause, without receiving any benefits in return.

Agreed, occasionally cars are essential, but that doesn’t justify using them as the default mode of transport, or filling our streets with wall-to-wall parking.

As for businesses, if cars are so important to their functioning, why is it that central London – the least car friendly area of the UK – has the most vibrant economy?

In the 19th century some human beings were owned by other people and businesses, who made similar comments about the economic benefits of slavery – and, when it was abolished, received the compensation that should rightfully have gone to ex-slaves.

Just as we now struggle to understand this mentality, I suspect our descendants will find it equally hard to understand how we have elevated private vehicle ownership to the dominance it has achieved in our society.



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