The Guardian as saying that he will 'end the war on motorists'. Who though is waging war on whom? It is not motorists who pay the full price financially, legally or in terms of casualties for the damage they inflict. On holiday this week I saw an angry windscreen sticker proclaiming 'Back off the motorist'. Where can I get a bumper sticker proclaiming 'Tax me properly when I drive' or 'Enforce the law against me whn I transgress' or 'Deter me properly from killing or maiming when I am behind a wheel'?
Mr Hammond does not cycle (he drives a Jaguar), nor does he understand that care needs to be taken around and room given to vulnerable roadusers. He apparently believes it is for cyclists to make cycling safer. Oh and speed cameras are just not sporting, so no more funding for local authorities for those (especially not those devious average speed cameras which make it harder to evade detection by slamming on the brakes when you see the flourescent yellow camera and tell-tale road markings).
The latest decision of Mr Hammond is to order a review of the exisiting plans to order more train carriages (ones which were to have had more space for cycles). Apparently a decline in rail passengers is predicted due to the recession so funding for railways is to be cut. Causes for a decline in rail passengers are not hard to find in economically straitened times. We have the most expensive trains in Europe. To give an example, I need to attend a meeting in Exeter on Monday morning; I do not know how long it will last so cannot pre-book the train. The fare is £150 2nd class (50p/mile). The running cost to drive would be around £60 at 20p/mile. Driving would take around the same time but with no time spent waiting for a train or connection No wonder people are abandoning trains for their cars. There needs to be an incentive to choose the less damaging mode of transport.
Equally a commute from where I live into Central London costs around £20 by train (33p/mile) so cheaper to drive even with the congestion charge. The reason many people take the train is because it is marginally faster and because parking is scarce/expensive. In the event that people are persuaded to adopt a more sustainable form of transport, others will see the freed up roadspace and freed up parking and make choices based on simple economics.
For those reasons it is essential first that roadspace is reallocated from the motorist so that success in discouraging car use does not result in temptingly freed up roads, and second that taxes on motoring are increased and/or road charging introduced with more sustainable methods of transport subsidised so that the economics are not quite so powerfully in favour of the car.
In relation to the reallocation of roadspace, I pay for the roads through my taxes and so do you. They are not financed by the motorist. Often, particularly in densely populated areas but also in rural areas where by-passes have been built, a number of roads lead broadly the same way. Why not erect barriers that only cyclists and pedestrians can pass every few miles on some routes so that motoring is only for access and is restricted in speed to 15 or 20 mph? Or look at exisiting dual carriageways with a view to devoting one side only to motor traffic? Some roads designed for motorists, some for cyclists, removing the dominance of the car on at least some roads for the first time for 100 years. The roads are already there, so this could be no more expensive than the hopelessly impracticable cycle facilities now provided at such expense.
We need imaginative solutions to our transport problems, not a harking back to the era when the car was even more clearly king than it is today.