Olympic countdown - Reasons for a London Cycle Map, #5. Unburdening people and planet.

#5. UNBURDENING PEOPLE AND PLANET. Motor vehicles produce hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, ozone, acidic compounds, and carbon dioxide, all of which are harmful to the environment. These harmful effects include poor air quality, destruction of the ozone layer, acid rain, and global warming: around 20% of carbon emissions come from road traffic. Urban traffic emissions are especially harmful, where low speeds, short journeys, congested conditions, cold engines and frequent accelerations combine to increase the concentration of pollutants.

Car usage in cities is, on the whole, utterly self-defeating. With a few exceptions (when heavy loads or hurricanes are involved), cycling is quicker, cheaper, more pleasant, less stressful, healthier and more invigorating. Through car usage, human beings are self-flagellating their way to environmental oblivion.

People often self-harm when they feel trapped. Looking out upon London’s grisly and labyrinthine road network with its lurching great rivers of trucks and buses, non-cyclists naturally feel that their movement is restricted. How do we set Londoners free and alleviate the environmental burden caused by unnecessary car usage?

A London Cycle Map would make it so much easier to navigate by bike in the capital. With signs and trails of road markings throughout the London Cycle Network, cyclists could slip their way through the traffic delta, on quieter, safer streets. These long-straight coloured cycle routes would connect every single area of London, making cycling as simple as catching the Tube.

Harming the environment in the long-term is self-harm enough. Doing so while harming ourselves in the short term, day-in, day-out, is just plain silly. In getting millions of people out of their cars and onto their bikes, A London Cycle Map is a clear example of a policy that would be great for people and planet.



You might be interested in a

You might be interested in a report on urban and transport planning policy produced in 1963 for the Department of Transport entitled 'Traffic in Towns'. The report team was headed by the architect, civil engineer and planner Professor Sir Colin Buchanan. Here is an extract:

"It is impossible to spend any time on the study of the future of traffic in towns without at once being appalled by the magnitude of the emergency that is coming upon us. We are nourishing at immense cost a monster of great potential destructiveness, and yet we love him dearly. To refuse to accept the challenge it presents would be an act of defeatism."

Unusually for a technical policy report, it was so much in demand that Penguin abridged it and republished it as a book.

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