Opinion: We need a sensible approach to travel
The government appears to have disregarded the implications for road safety and pollution by choosing to declare all-out war on what they misleadingly call “the war on motorists”.
Rishi Sunak confirmed at the Conservative party conference that he intends to “clamp down on councils who wish to introduce 20mph zones and low traffic neighbourhoods”.
Very few people doubt that as a nation we need safer streets.
This is not about politics, it’s about saving lives and the benefits of clean air.
It seems a most inappropriate issue to use as culture war fodder, and it appears a little heavy handed that the government is calling the shots.
The people best placed to find solutions are the very communities which are affected.
The people conducting this so-called war are parents of school children, road accident victims or their families, along with local councils. Not a warrior in sight.
There is clear evidence that a child is seven times more likely to die if hit by a car travelling at 30mph rather than 20mph. Traffic speed is an area where culture wars should never be deployed, and the preservation of life must always take priority over the opportunity to win a few extra votes.
The Green party would prefer it if we didn’t have a government whose policies seem designed to force us into cars. Many motorists are also public transport users and cyclists. They might be inclined to use a cheap and efficient public transport system all the more.
Sadly, as a city Peterborough seems representative of the overall picture. The Peterborough Development Corporation designed and built a superb cycle friendly city, but a lack of maintenance of the networks over the years has led to an unacceptably high number of potential dangers on many of our cycle-paths. This has led to them no longer fulfilling their incredible potential. Locally we have been working on a cycling and walking infrastructure plan which aims to improve cycle routes and implement segregated, safer cycleways on our roads.
Bus travel in Peterborough needs improving.
City services in general run regularly throughout the day. Oddly the services all but stop by late evening despite plenty of people wanting to enjoy the splendid bars and restaurants which Peterborough has to offer.
Also, rural services such as the bus which used to travel from Peterborough to Stamford, via Castor, Wansford and Wittering no longer run. We need to improve bus provision for these communities and take public transport back into public ownership so that the profits are reinvested into local services.
Instead of a government using our safety and air quality as a tool to divide us, we would like them to spend more energy developing a local and national transport strategy designed to improve the experience for everyone.
Hopefully this would be one with an emphasis on active travel and public transport.
We appreciate that many people would still need to drive, but we need a sensible approach to travel, and perhaps a healthy debate over speed limits rather than the divisive and aggressive language currently being used.