Friday 20 July 2012

RAC Foundation totally blows the "foundation" idea

This week the "RAC Foundation" has gone from being a car-centric research group to being the people that send mad rants into newspapers blaming bicycles for causing traffic jams.

Why? Their article on the conversion of gardens into driveways, covered in their blog.

It says
  • Seven Million gardens have been paved over to make driveways
  • This is due to the rise in car numbers, from 2M in 1950 to 28.5M today
Then it goes on
  • This number will rise to 32M
  • Councils need to "provide adequate space for stationary cars,"
This is bollocks -ignoring the elephant in the room

By saying that the number of cars in our cities is the driver for driveway-conversions, it is acknowledging -but failing to draw out, the harsh truth

There is not enough space to park the cars already in the country -and adding more cars to the country will only make things worse.

Blaming the councils for this is utterly fucking ridiculous. Where are councils expected to "provide adequate space for stationary cars," on residential roads. The roads have cars on both sides, many roads have cars half on the pavements to ensure traffic flow. All that is left is a formal conversion of the pavement to parking with parking bays (the Waltham Forest strategy) or complete occupation (the Montpelier strategy -were the lack of gardens forces this action in earlier than the rest of the country).

The only alternative way for councils to expand parking capacity in residential areas is to add underground parking areas under every city street. That's all that's left, and to whine on about "surpluses" that councils make from parking is so daft they should remove the world "foundation" from their title and call themselves "three-year-olds".

The Pedestrian Liberation Front (who are not associated with the People's Liberation Front, though we reach out the Black Kevlar Glove of friendship towards these fellow strugglers who also refuse to wear Hi-Viz) put the boot in  and make a key point.

You can reduce parking demand by providing alternatives such as car clubs.

Here is another point the RAC "foundation" missed as a cause of this. 

The rise in car ownership has been driven by a failure of government and councils to provide any alternatives that are safe, convenient and affordable.

Look at all the campaigning by the RAC foundation, the AA and the papers against fuel duty rises. Compare with the silence about train fare cost increase. Compare with the silence about the fact that UK train system is a complete fucking disaster.

Residential streets are meant to be the quiet and safe roads in the cities to cycle -the back roads that we are recommended to use. Yet cars parked on either side means that rat-running drivers end up chicaning down them at speed, making it quiet most of the time but hazardous whenever there is passing traffic.

Those parked cars take up space that could be used to provide safe cycle routes. There is a cost to that 28.5 Million cars that the RAC omits -even when not being used they impact better forms of transport.

If there really is going to be 32M cars soon -which shows the RAC believes those DfT numbers that appear to be pulled out of a hat to justify their own projects- then that means 4M more cars trying to take space away from walking and cycling.

Instead of complaining about lack of council investment in space for stationary cars, they should be looking at how much damage four million cars does to our cities, even when stationary, what better uses could be made of that roadway, and how to transition our cities from places where even the gardens are being paved over into ones where people can walk, cycle, use modern public transport -and car share when they actually need the carrying capacity or range of a car.

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