Cars have become such a destructive force in our communities. I wrote about that here. On top of that, the affliction know as Stockholm Syndrome seems to have spread its destructive power throughout our communities. Typically, I find there are two likely responses when this issue is raised. Firstly, it is an acceptance of the status-quo. ie. nothing can be done. Driving is in our DNA. The second type of response is much worse. It’s a kind of “what planet are you from, mate?” blank expression.
You would have to imagine that the motor industry can’t believe its good fortune.
And it’s in this context that my attention has been drawn once again to the ‘Walking School Bus’. I recall when it was first introduced. It was lauded for its potential to get children walking to school. But little has changed. The car is still the preferred mode of transport for the school run. Anyone around a school gate around 9am and 3pm can vouch for that. Words need to be supported by much stronger actions. And I mean actions that make it easier to walk because driving is made less easy.
In the absence of any meaningful action, this attempt to get children walking will remain a token gesture. And you know it’s flawed when teaching children to be aware of ‘sneaky driveways’ is one of the main teaching points. The real target audience should be the motorists themselves, with a focus of building a social contract. Creating a physical environment that gives priority to the little people walking and cycling over traffic flow should be a top priority.
But you can see the problem. Your local transport agency is not going to be the first mover here. They will only be shifted by ongoing pressure from people within communities. And at present, those people seem largely satisfied with, or ambivalent to the current reality.
I think the quote by CS Lewis below, captures the essence of the problem we are facing,
The truest and most horrible claim made for modern transport is that it “annihilates space.” It does. It annihilates one of the most glorious gifts we have been given. It is a vile inflation which lowers the value of distance, so that a modern boy travels a hundred miles with less sense of liberation and pilgrimage and adventure than his grandfather got from traveling ten.
‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.
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