Car congestion? Simple, build more roads!Ok... I'll hold my hand up, and admit I love cars and motoring. I passed my test when I was 21, my first car was a secondhand Nissan Stanza, I soon wrote that off on the central reservation in Park Lane. So, I decided to save up some money and buy a new car, a Peugeot 205 Ralle. Loved it - drove it all over the UK, and Europe.
Today, it seems that the attitude towards cars, their owners, roads and motoways, have changed drasticly over the past 20 years. If you ask me, the Mayor of London, Ken Livinstone perfectly encapsulates contemporary attitude towards cars "I hate cars. If I ever get any power again, I'll ban the lot". This seems to be the solution to car congestion on offer by everyone these days, from New Labour to the entire environmentalists movement - the message is simple enough, 'get out of your car', and get a push bike, or jump on the bus instead. Better still... walk. Yeah right... as if.
Driving in London can certainly be a total nightmare, especially at Bank holiday weekends. In fact, Bank holiday weekends are when the road systems in England actually grinds to a halt. But, what I want to know is, why can't the 5th wealthiest nation on Earth, build itself out of congestion? Why can't we build more roads? That's how you gid rid of congestion, the Westway in West London is proof - if I want to go to Hammersmith from From Old Street, I go on the Westway, and Edware, Paddington and Notting Hill completely dissapper.
The debate about car congestion is dominated by petty small-mindedness. Apparently, the people who gave the world the engineering marvel that is the Channel Tunnel, are somehow incapable of building the kind of brand new state-of-the-art fast road infrastructure that we desperately need. The mantra from the government is that, whatever happens, we can't just build our way out of the problem. What? I would consider that an insult to the British building and engineering industry. Given the resources, there isn't anything they can't build.
So, hold on a minute, why can't we build our way out of this problem? Isn't that how humanity has progressed from the caves to modern day civilisation? Along the ancient trading routes, upon the roads the Romans built, on the Victorian railways, and on modern motorway systems. Our political elite seem to be in a different gear than our ancestors - Tony Blair and co seem to be in reverse.
It's not entirely self-evident as to why the British government believes that the British people 'cannot simply build our way out of the problems we face'. In case we forget, the Transport Secretary Alistair Darling reminded everyone at a speech to the Institute of Public Policy last year - that - you guessed it, 'we cannot build our way out of the problem'. Alright, alright, message recieved.
But, hello? Can I ask - why is the politics of petty, small-minded, local green Nimbyism being placed, over and above the fundamental notion of providing universal provisions? The past fifty years have seen motorways improve the quality of our lives, and has given us all more freedom in the process. Indeed, it is no business of the government to persuade people out of their cars, especially when they have no viable, or even visible alternative to it.
The British government are so bereft of vision, leadership, and most importantly, ideas, they have resorted to taxing motorists out of existence - what a novelty.
The truth is, we need new, bold ideas and plans if we really want to get rid of congestion from our cities. Not government mumbo-jumbo about 'car-sharing' schemes, that simply ain't good enough. We need to seek new horizons, not the low horizons on offer by this penny-pinching bunch of political bean-counters.
Picture: From the Guardian Unlimited