Time to take a walk and witness the damage we’re all causing

CROYDON COMMENTARY: It is not only the Evening Standard that is supporting the London-wide expansion of ULEZ, the Ultra Low Emission Zone, as loyal reader DAVID SQUIRES explains

Smile, you’re on camera: ULEZ is coming to Croydon in August

ULEZ is an interesting issue. The ultimate problem is that we need to find a way to encourage more people to make fewer unnecessary trips by car. We have an obese population, with an ever-increasing volume of chronic illnesses. Rather than taking a 15-minute walk to the shop to get some milk, people would rather drive the same journey, as it gives them an extra five minutes in front of the TV.

I work in the Square Mile in London and it is hard to describe how much more pleasant it is now that it is no longer a slow-moving car park. I used to dread leaving the office because even walking for a few minutes was a nasty experience. That is not the case anymore.

A lot of the people who do complain about ULEZ do so from the perspective of where this is leading. I think we all know where it is ultimately leading (which could be bad for everyone), but again the problem is that humans are ultimately lazy and a blunt object is needed to change bad habits.

It always amuses me when I see someone say something like “but what about disabled people”. Quite often the person who says that is the same person who sees a disabled person trying to cross the road and just ignores them, then uses them as a “but what about” when it suits their needs.

My personal concern with car use is less about the fumes, but the particulates from tyres and brakes. Evidence seems to suggest that they are an increasing issue and the move to things like electric cars will not help (in fact their additional weight could make it worse).

Having said that, I recently had to make a trip to a hospital appointment and walked there from the train station. The air was disgusting, and that was clearly a result of the unending queue of cars pumping out fumes. Imagine if for one day they put something in the petrol so that the fumes coming out of car exhausts was coloured. I think people would actually be horrified at what they would see.

All I can say to people is try to do some trips that you would normally use your car for differently. Walk, cycle, use public transport. Enjoy your surroundings. Take a diversion via a local park. When you are walking, look at how badly many people are driving and ask the question whether you also exhibit any of those bad habits.

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8 Responses to Time to take a walk and witness the damage we’re all causing

  1. Kevin Croucher says:

    I like to walk to the shops because you get to meet and talk to the neighbours, rather than whizzing past each other in our metal boxes where you see them as a nuisance who gets in your way or takes your parking space.

  2. Chris Borasinski says:

    David Squires sounds like a true democrat (rather like his mate Khan & his democratically unsupported ULEZ plan). Thank goodness we’ve got people like Dave & the Evening Standard to set us proles on the right (car less) road.

    • geoffjames2 says:

      Chris. Just attack the messenger! Not smart – not constructive, adds nothing to the debate. You are aware of the issues (car pollution, congestion, the need to encourage less car use; and more active travel). So Chris, what are your suggestions?

    • Chris, when was it democratically decided that it was OK for us to breathe in more and more exhaust fumes that make us sick and overheat our planet? Did I miss that referendum or it being an election promise?

  3. Derek Nicholls says:

    So, if we don’t like the quality of our air and we don’t like the unsuitable expansion of ULEZ, the alternative is to stop population density in London increasing. The economic activities of people have a major influence on air quality. Therefore, more people can lead to poorer air quality. Presumably, if air quality is all-important, it should be possible to successfully object to all planning applications which involve a family house being replaced by multiple flats.

  4. miapawz says:

    Well, without replacing our cars with better public transport the whole ulez argument is all stick and no alternative. I could be made to scrap a perfectly good maintained modest MOTd car from before 2015, which I do low mileage in, but if i had the money to own a 2016 diesel, I would be able to belch out thousands of miles in it and not be caught by ULEZ. Which one is better? Its just about raising money for TFL which has been run into the ground. What about small businesses who are just outside the ULEZ? off to a client inside the line, they will have to pass on £12.50 to their clients daily, or just give up ? What about the foulest air in london, which is the deep tube lines? Blow your nose after a journey on the northern line, and yikes.

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