By Jonnie Allen
So apparently I live in a city that is happy that people drive to work, increasingly in 4x4s, but tells me that I should not cycle.
On the 10th of April pollution levels in London were considered bad enough that those that live in the city were encouraged to not do exercise outside. Following this advice I did not cycle to work (as I normally do). I thought that this in itself was bad enough but then walking through central London I passed the usual London traffic with the ever increasing number of people that have made the astonishing decision to drive large 4x4s to work. I am told not to cycle but nobody is telling them not to drive.
Due to the craziness of this situation I decided that I had to do something so I contacted the elected representatives that are charged with managing and improving our city. We had reached a stage at the start of April where our air quality is so bad we cannot exercise outside (what will it be like in the summer). Of those that I contacted the only one to reply was Richard Tracey, London Assembly member for my area and Conservative Lead on Transport. A well placed person to comment on the subject. Richard started his response by saying that he understood my concerns and that, “at City Hall it is the reason why the Mayor has announced the Ultra Low Emission Zone from 2020. That may seem rather late to you, but we have been conducting large scale monitoring of London pollution levels for some years”.
I know that it is easy to snipe from the sidelines but this astonished me. I have a two year old daughter and the best the decision makers can do is to say that in five years they will be able to tackle some of the bad polluters in a small area of central London. They have been doing testing though so they know that it is really bad (and this from a mayor that reduced the size of the congestion charge zone when first elected).
As you can imagine some of my more radical suggestions went down badly, Richard’s response was, “As regards banning some cars, that is a much more draconian measure, but, from what you write, it is one you would support. Clearly we all hope that persuasion would work with those particularly who drive very large 4×4 cars or others which have very large engines. How successful we shall be with persuasion remains to be judged, but we are all doing our best to put across the message.”
So until 2020 we are trying to persuade people to not do the wrong thing whilst other cities act. My frustration was furthered by discussion with the head of the Cundall Transport team who instantly pointed out that there are a number of things that could be done to help with these issues. More to follow….
***UPDATE*** To read Neil McAlpine’s response to this blog click here!
Find out more about Cundall – http://www.cundall.com/