Friday, 24 January 2014

Compulsion is not the answer!

Yesterday I saw an open letter written by the Putney Labour party, regarding the redevelopment of the Putney Hospital site which you can see here.

This was the comment which really hit me:
"Make parents sign a “green transport plan”. Once a school is up and running, all parents should be asked to sign an agreement not to bring their children by car."

For me this highlights a number of things.

For one, campaigning and lobbying efforts from local groups tend to be directed towards the people that hold the power.  So if a party that isn't in power doesn't have full access to information, or hasn't been educated on the issues, they could be excused in part for having half-baked solutions.  But, with walking and cycling, there really isn't any excuse.

The comment above just highlights how for decades our streets have been mismanaged by politicians of every persuasion.

What we really need locally is to design out road danger, that is, people driving irresponsibly. At the same time we design in attractive options for people to walk and cycle. People will then choose to cycle or walk short trips as they will have become the most attractive choice, no compulsion or signing of agreements needed.

Whilst the Conservatives locally choose to suggest that collisions that happen on our roads are all 'accidents'.  Labour's PPC for Putney and the chair of Putney Labour suggest that we can compel parents not to drive their children to school.  The Tories policies mean officers tell residents that, "no-one has been killed there yet" is a reason not to act if a concerned resident writes to the council.  If compulsion is the 'big idea' from Labour, well, that's just not going to work.

Out of the major parties locally, it seems like it's only the Lib Dems, who have been really listening to groups like Wandsworth Living Streets, and the Wandsworth Cycling Campaign who have been pushing forward viable solutions for years now.

Design safer street environments where walking and cycling are properly recognised as a means of travel, and a lot of our congestion issues will evaporate. If the Tories and Labour aren't going to take meaningful action on this, then perhaps it's time for some Lib Dems to be on the council.

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