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Rare serious post

As a society it is my contention that we have to a certain extent become divorced from the concept of protest (The march against the iraq war being a noble exception, for all that it accomplished very little). It's just a little outre, a little too earnest, to feel strongly enough about a subject to get off your arse and do something about it.

Unless of course, it's something to do with our fucking cars. Speed cameras, fuel prices, nothing gets the lumpen englishman quite as het up as an impingement on his freedom to do exactly what he likes with his four-wheeled deathbox. It is his "right" to have cheap fuel, his "right" to speed", his "right" to make entirely fucking unnecessary journeys. It is also his "right" to drive a dirty great bypass right through the middle of ancient farmlan just so he has the "right" not to spend another couple of minutes sat at the traffic lights outside Morrisons.

I've been thinking a lot about the nature of people's relationships with their motors recently, as a non-driver it mystifies me. I've never found a place I was unable to visit via a combination of public transport and shanks' pony. I've never felt the need to cocoon myself, shut myself off from the world in the manner of drivers. A rough poll of immediate acquaintances seemed to throw up the same reasons for driving, freedom, convenience, independence. One respondent was honest enough to admit what I suspected, he just doesn't like public transport because there are other people on it. An exceedingly english attitude which I hope to return to have a look at at a later date. Because if this country doesn't wean itself off its obsession with all things four-wheeled the consequences will be disastrous.

Such as the point of this post, in which Coastalblog come out four-square to oppose the proposed Ormskirk bypass. At a projected cost of £38 million (and when was the last time a public engineering work came in on budget?) They propose to ease congestion in central Ormskirk by driving a road though ancient farmland, near woods inhabited by protected species of bat and owl, a great swathe through the green lungs of my town.

The efficacy of this scheme is dubious to say the least. The councils own projections forecast a traffic increase. The scheme fails to acknowledge that the vast amount of Ormskirk traffic is intra-urban, as opposed to through-flow. In large part the congestion is due to unnecessary trips (the school run being a case in point, this is a small town, it's possible to walk from one extreme to the other in twenty minutes, why on earth are kids being driven?). There is also a correlation between traffic flow and a reduction in local public transport. There is no direct train to southport, rural bus services to villages like Halsall have in fact been recently axed. An action which clearly leads to further congestion. Which leads to a further excuse for a bypass.

But it's cars, innit? Everyone likes cars.

Councils questionnaire here

Downing St petition here

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