Oh. My. God. What a horrible headline?!!
This news arrived in our e-mail inbox from UK greenwashing quango SUSTRANS, who are big on attention grabbing headlines (obviously).
A read of the article here, though, soothed our minds, apparently, this "biggest ever push" consists solely of the fact that, for one year only:
Around 63,000 homes in Cardiff and Penarth are being offered personalised travel advice from Sustrans to help them plan their local journeys on foot, by bike and on public transport.After the initial year, if they can get funding, then they might do something else similar in another small corner of somewhere else in Wales.
Can you imagine our relief? Firstly, this "initiative" is in a small local area, in far away country full of people of whom we know nothing. But secondly, and much more significantly, this "project" does not involve doing anything which experience in other countries shows would actually reduce the use of cars: It does not involve a moratorium on the creation of car-parking spaces in towns; it does not involve road-pricing or congestion-charging; it does not involve road closures or roadspace-reallocation; it does not involve a carbon tax and it does not involve the sequestration of our road-taxes for a segregated cycling infrastructure building-programme. In short, this "biggest ever push" to get UK drivers to "just leave the car at home" consists of a couple of hand-wringing veggie do-gooder volunteers schlepping around with carrier bags full of leaflets (see below), knocking on doors in Cardiff, needily begging tax-payers and wealth-creators not to use the car once in a while. And to think, when we saw the headline, we were afraid that SUSTRANS were getting serious!
Of course, we should have known better, because all the evidence points to SUSTRANS being on-side with the Hard-Pressed Motorist. After all, SUSTRANS heavily promulgate the facts that walking is a special activity, which requires special planning, special food, special equipment and special authorisation. See the SUSTRANS "Stride Guide" (pdf) info-sheet on "how to walk".
In this amazing anti-walking pamphlet which includes a 5-week countdown checklist for getting ready to walk, SUSTRANS suggests that walkers should consider singing a special song, be made to write poetry, wear fancy dress and eat veggie sausages. And we didn't even make any of that up.
While, of course, it is true that most people who walk are oddly-dressed vegetarian poetry-writers, if anything, we think that SUSTRANS has gone a bit too far this time in lampooning the vegan anti-car fanatics; its difficult to suspend disbelief when reading this satirical broadside. They even go so far as to say that walkers should carry passports!
We're all glad to know that SUSTRANS has a pro-status-quo greenwashing agenda, but this time they have gone too far, they need to calm down their frothy-mouthed rhetoric. We all know that hippy layabout tax-dodging oblimovist walkers and cyclists need to be shown that their so-called "sustainability" is harming the economy, but what we question is whether pushing against them and ranting about their vegan, poetry-writing funny-clothes-wearing is the most considered approach. Baiting walkers in such an immature and hostile way is only going to result in a big "**** you" rather than a considered "yes, you're right, walking is ridiculous, I should be supporting the economy by using our nice cars whenever we can, thus providing much employment and contributing greatly in taxes and giving the place a real 'buzz' of activity."
One thing we do agree with SUSTRANS on, though, is their insistence that walkers carry "a special passport" - like the pass-papers carried by black, asian and mixed-race people in apartheid-era South Africa, it will allow the authorities to swiftly identify the trouble-makers and flag them up for processing.
Look: This is the sort of thing we were afraid that SUSTRANS were about to announce. Thank god that what's happening in Wales just turned out to be a leafletting exercise.