Weekly War Bulletin, 25 Sep

As we know, Boris has been quietly dropping policies that improve our transport and built environment by cutting private and business vehicle use.  The already delayed Low Emission Zone, for example, has been pushed back another two years — so another two years of the smogs that cost the city millions of pounds and thousands of lives.

All Newspapers reported the story that Brake are backing helmets for hire bikes – they’re essential, apparently.  Indeed, Boris is terrified by people’s careless Borisbiking.  As CycaLogical points out, though, All Newspapers overlooked the next part of Brake’s recommendations — that traffic be cut, speed be cut, and more routes be de-Motorised.

Oona King thinks that cycling in London will take off only if we provide showers for “hot and sweaty” cyclists.  No mention of the one issue that non-cyclists most consistently cite as putting them off: too much traffic too badly driven, and the lack of sane de-Motorised infrastructure.

Car park fees at tube stations are to rise — a stealth fares hike says All Newspapers.  Presumably, since there is no other way to get to a tube station, Motorists will just have to drive all the way to their final destination instead.  And up and down the country local councils are continuing their War On The Motorist by considering raising parking fines.

From the department of absurd transport “solutions”: the 155mph 23 seat business-class “superbus“.  And the electric van fitted with sci-fi sound-effects, because people would obviously be unable to adapt to a world with quieter vehicles.

Instead, how about a more stepped introduction to driving, with recently-passed Motorists kept off the roads after dark?

Via Boing Boing: the story of an Illinois state trooper who sends emails while driving at 126mph, before inevitably veering into an oncoming car, killing two.  His comeuppance? A 30 month suspended sentence, two years off work on full pay, and the receipt of $75,000 worker’s compensation.  If that isn’t a harsh disincentive to drive dangerously…

The number of careless driving convictions is falling.  Interpret this fact as evidence for anything you like.

Cycling is cool — but not for professionals.  Therefore professionals are not cool.

Recall of Bentleys: the flying B mascot will impale the pedestrians that get hit by the cars, they found.  Obviously, it’s fine to sell something that you know will kill people, it’s only the impaling bit that’s wrong.

London Underground will be fined for flying flaps that slapped passengers on the platform.

The proposal to give Waterloo Station (a “much altered and uncoordinated mix of styles”) listed building status has been rejected, leaving Network Rail free to mess about it with it.

Brixton bus depot burned down.

Apparently it was car-free day on Wednesday.  Me neither.

Railway first-aiders say they’re not allowed to give first-aid to passengers.

And your moment of zen, via flickr blog and flickr user Brunocerous: the sad sight of an old tree downed by storms in NYC.

BJN_1152 tree v SUV

When you start paying road tax…

The Grauniad reports that London is about to breach its annual allowance of “bad air days”.  The consequence of the city’s authorities’ impotence in preventing summer smogs is that they will be fined £300m.  Three hundred million pounds.

And four to five thousand people will die prematurely every year.

That’s twenty five times as many people as die in “collisions” on London’s roads; more even than get seriously injured.

The Guardian rightly chastise the authorities — primarily the mayor — for their hopeless incompetence in allowing such a massive preventable loss of life to occur, and for throwing away such a vast quantity of our money at a time when we’re all being told we must tighten our belts.  It was Boris’s absurd decision to reduce the congestion charge footprint, and his pointless delaying of the low emission zone introduction that are to blame, they say.  They come so close to identifying the problem.  And yet they don’t actually mention it: they don’t name the actual source of the problem.  Why do we have smogs?  The politicians are to blame for ignoring the problem, but who created the problem in the first place?

We have smogs in London because a dangerous minority of the population are invited to burn oil in our streets; because a selfish minority elect to use a singularly inappropriate method of transporting themselves across it.  We have smogs because the public has chosen to devote vast tracts of land and sophisticated expensive infrastructure to the proposition that driving into central London is acceptable behaviour.  We have smogs because London’s authorities have simply decided that what the city needs is twenty one thousand dirty diesel burning black cabs running around half empty all day, every day; needs them so much that they are to be given an even freer reign over our city than the already free reign given to private cars and trucks.

We have smogs because people don’t consider or care for the consequences of their actions.  And we have smogs because some people think that the consequences don’t matter because they’re paying for it.  “When you start paying road tax and insurance and get a number plate and MOT…”

Your and my council tax will be paying for London’s £300 million fine; a collective punishment for the selfish behaviour of the few.  Meanwhile, no amount of any tax will make it OK for five thousand Londoners to die slowly, painfully, miserably, rasping through ruined lungs.