kicking cans

If the promise to leave the EU is as strong as the promise to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050 are of the same strenght, then we can assume that this government is just a promise but no action government.

What we get are sincere, deep voices, manly promises, but nothing changes, really.

Greenpeace thought of getting the grey cells of some politicians into motion but that didn’t have any effect, other than being pushed out of the event.

Action speaks louder than words but words are all what some people can come up with. The dinners, the speeches, the outfits, the glamour.

I am not certain that our politicians these days have the mental capacity or even flexibility to actually change anything that moves them out of their current comfort zones.

I don’t care whether we get Brexit or not, but what I care about is that our quality of life increases.

And I don’t believe those who say they are so totally Green because they all use medications and modern technology that was borne out of dirty production methods and using fossil fuels. They all have cars and use flights.

We need to start somewhere and how about changing the way we fund and perceive our schools?

Why not make sure that all schools are enabling our pupils and future generations to breathe in clean air? That all our pupils get plenty of palying fields and green spaces?

If we really want to change our lives, we need to change the way we calculate profits, taxes and distribution of wealth, ownership. In fact we need to redefine the meaning of wealth to include

  • health
  • environment

You cannot sell a walk in the forest for profit, you cannot sell the rainforest because it needs to be wild and just as it is. You cannot sell the ocean because it needs to stay and we cannot sell the north or south pole because we need it just as it is.

Yet there are two things, which are wars and space exploration, which create more carbon emission than a lot of other items. Also the production of white goods and anything that uses metals is highly contageous. Calculate your carbon footprint here.

Lets think about that for a while.

Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using machines is simply not creating the bio diversity we need to keep the environment healthy and evacuating from earth to another planet is nothing but wishful dreaming.

I must admit, I just love living in our civilisation, the freedom that women can have would be not even half as good in a primitive low carbon society.

Yet there is still the possibility of an educated low carbon society, something we probably all dream about. Articles 25 and 26 of the Universal Human Rights deal with health and education whilst the vast majority of paragraphs deal with legal definitions of personal freedoms.

Perhaps that declaration of Human Rights, should include taking care of our planet as an obligation and right for all of us.

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Pleasing tax-payer politics

The motion to reduce petrol prices is a typical voter-friendly political strategy. Of course people are fed up having to pay those high petrol prices because they need the car to get to work and do the shopping. But it is the lifestyle that is forced upon them by the way our society is set up. Our society is not set up to be friendly to the environment and avoid use of fossil fuel, it is set up to use lots of fossil fuel and as much as possible and to use cars to burn it.

Society could be organised differently in that we are employed locally or business is not concentrated in out–of-town shopping centres, but that is just not the way it is. There is going to be a clash because we are already not complying to the EU clean air and environmental goals and might have to pay heavy fines for busting our allocated limits on pollution whilst at the same time the car drivers want cheaper petrol prices. It is not possible to achieve both because cars still burn fossil fuels and industry is not fast enough churning out different models of cars. Even if they were, people would not have the ready cash to buy them quickly anyhow.

Shows that we are slow and hard to change quickly with changing demands. The way our society is set up, is so rickety, that it takes over 100 years to make a structural change, that is not long enough to please the current environmental requirements. Industry still beliefs it is best to use as much fossil fuel as possible and to rely on it to make a quick buck. Yet the long-term damage that the sucking up of fossil fuels causes to the planet have not yet even come out, they create lots of cavity and that creates lots of earthquakes.

UK in breach of EU pollution rules since 2005

It of course does put the accusation of the Greens, during the last mayoral elections, in which they accused Boris of not caring for families, into a realistic context. Reading that the UK does not care about pollution levels, which causes a big health issue, hurts. I quote from the article “There are no air quality actions for Defra or the Department for Transport in their departmental business plans,”  and few government departments “appear to understand the importance of the issue”.

What is happening is that a few cycle lanes have been built, which are dangerous and already cost lives because recently 2 cyclists got killed within a week on those so-called safe cycling lanes in Bow.

The whole traffic infra-structure is not changing at all. The roads are made for cars and the congestion is still the same. I would not want to walk or jog near a busy road in London, which is chock-a-block with cars and lorries at most hours of the day.

The rule that parents should walk their kids to school is not enforced at all. Parents are allowed to park illegally outside of schools to drop off their children. Just in my locality cars are parked illegally every time there is a big event in York Hall. Traffic wardens could make a fortune for the borough if they towed away and ticketed all the illegally parked cars and so discourage them from coming on roads to the venue, but they don’t because if they come by car they come to York Hall.

There is no effort to effectively reduce car traffic in London at all.

It would be much better if traffic would change by reducing the amount of road space for cars and increasing cycle lanes to make them wider, therefore squeezing out car traffic because there is no proper indication that environmentally friendly cars are to be sold en mass.

Of course changing the road traffic structure would cost major investment and that is money the government doesn’t want to spend as cycling traffic doesn’t make much money and politicians do want their wages from tax payers. Politicians are the most selfish breed of employee I know.

The oily creep

Protest against BP’s oil spill has taken more ingenious steps to make protests around those who get sponsorship from BP. I have seen appeals to support the oil spill in the US by giving donations. Now why should I want to give donations to a problem that was caused by a huge multi-million company?

We should all try to avoid using products that are made from crude oil like plastic bags for example. As long as we use the products, BP will have to drill oil wells at a huge risk.  I think many cultural institutions are depend on donations from large multi-national companies like BP and we should not blame them for taking the money. We all benefit from our nice museums and the art displays we can enjoy.

It’s a little bit of a dog biting its own tail situation, that we use the products and cannot blame those producing them. In everything we do there is a certain risk factor but those who just seem to lay in wait for the next reason to protest about something, get a job instead.  I wonder did they use a petrol driven car to transport the molasses to the museum to spill it in protest? If yes, get your head examined and then get a job.

Cllr Peter Greenhalgh from Swindon

hopefully paves the way with his practical and sensible decision to turn off speed cameras. Why?
Because the council has to spend £320.000 for up-keep and all the proceeds from the fines go to the government.
Another fine mess the Labour government got itself into.
The Conservative Councillor quite sensibly concludes that they can spend that money more effectively increasing road safety and reducing accidents without filling the coffers of central government.
What a silly idea of a government anyhow to make local councils pay for something they cannot benefit for themselves.
the temporary vehicle activated warning signs can be seen here in my neighbourhood, they are speedometers, if I might call them that and each time a vehicle approaches and is over a certain limit a flashing warning comes up.

Whilst Road safety charity Brake calls the decision reckless, I would say it works well here in my neighbourhood, Tower Hamlets, a Labour Council.

But out of fairness to Brake,and the drivers, I would say that if a council maintains speed cameras out of their own budget, they should also be getting the proceeds.

Report on Yahoo News from Michael Holden

Commuting

Statue dedicated to the traveller in Oviedo, Spain

Statue dedicated to the traveller in Oviedo, Spain

If this “parking tax”as proposed by Sadiq Khan, Labour’s new minister for transport, as reported by the Press Association and picked up from Yahoo News, gets the go ahead, we can look forward to the re-structuring of traffic soon unless the car industry comes up with cars that are so environmentally friendly and cheaper to run that the amount of an eventual £350 per year of parking tax could be recouped by the users.

Initially the “parking tax”is scheduled to start off with £185 per year, to be paid by companies that provide car parking spaces for employees. This scheme is to be tested by Nottingham City Council. Is it coincidence that we get the nasty Sheriff of Nottingham scenario again? But really Sadiq Khan should be on the side of Robin Hood shouldn’t he, as Labour Party minister who opposes extradition treaties with the US!

What are the real motives for this new tax grabbing incentive? Could it be that Mr Khan is genuinely concerned about the environment and wants to discourage use of the car to curb omissions or does Mr Khan think that the use of car parking spaces take away from potential housing being built?

I always thought that companies could use their property any way they liked but that will now be challenged by this new initiative of the Labour Party.

On speculation what such a new tax would create we first of all have to look at the fundamental change of rights of owning property as the business owner will be told you can do anything that is not environmentally and health detrimental and you cannot provide car parking spaces for employees unless you pay us a tax on it.

For traffic we get the gist is that the revenue created shall be used for a tram system. Not too bad a motive I suppose but as of now traffic – and I speak as a resident of London – is already having problems sharing the thoroughfares sensibly and happily between buses, cars, cyclists and pedestrians.

Our roads are set up to allow for cars and buses in the middle, the sides are reserved for pedestrians but increasingly shared by cyclists who do not want to keep to the roads. We do have an “on your bike” campaign going on as well and I just wonder whether the whole traffic infrastructure should be re-thought to allow more driving space dedicated to cycles, whether the direction of policies is going to be, ban cars from the roads, unless they are public transport and only allow company vehicles or otherwise pedestrians, trams, buses and cycles on the thoroughfares or should we strive for battery driven cars that need to be parked somewhere at the cost of parking tax.

Not an easy decision but having taken to foot and public transport my point of view is that I miss clarity on national policy about transport issues, this also being stirred up even more by the current dispute over rail franchising and profitability of the rail network.

We get the keep to the time tables movement who do not understand that unless you have roads like in American cities, wide and not narrow as in London’s Bank area, we cannot keep to regular times, that also put pressure onto the argument and caused time displays of buses predicted arrival times, which are not reliable as I could see.

We get the back on your bikers who cause cyclists to use pavements as cycling routes.

And there are many more transport initiatives and all those taken together, cause our local environments to be riddled with transport thoroughfares of one sort or another. If things go on like this we have to invent floating houses so we can escape the constant flow of traffic in front of our doors or virtual schools so our children avoid being run over by bikes on the way to and from school.

The emphasis of our lives is not where we live anymore, our homes are not the centre of our lives any longer and business activity goes on around it, our homes are mere containers from which we emerge to go somewhere else to work , shop or holiday and hence all our homes are surrounded by some sort of constant traffic. With all those schemes traffic tends to increase rather than decrease and our local economies nonviable with fast food outlets becoming the norm for social gathering rather than pubs, who would also find the parking tax unaffordable. With fast food outlets the gathering can take place in the street, hence we see so many congregating around them at night time.

We should examine what is the idea of a home and how many hours we spend out of it and live out of suitcases, and take-away cartons. Surely and originally a home was a permanent place to live and work activities took place around the home either by rural production or economic activity but this is apparently no longer so, and since we have created the travelling citizen, government have become viable institutions but without it, they could not fatten their MP’s to the extend they do now.

Car in garage, get on the train

British rail first class wagon

British rail first class wagon

The most positive bit of news I read today was that rail operators want more rail lines to enable an extra passenger capacity of 1 million.

Those lines that were closed under the 1960s Beeching cuts now come in handy again. A bit like fashion, keep it in the cupboard long enough.

The car craze is going to come to an official end, even though even this morning I could not help admiring a sports care breezing past me and wondering whether I ever can afford one of those myself.

Definitely business for train travel is going to be booming the more the environmental lobby publishes for greener living and since even the most sceptical scientists have acknowledged that the oncoming earth warming is due to our making, e.g. carbon emissions, the train has it.

Well in the 60s the car industry had much to gain by selling us automobiles and now since its getting gradually out of fashion even those inner London narrow roads can breathe a sigh of relief as they will not be widened ever.

One obvious advantage for train travel, for those who can’t afford a chauffeur is that one can get quite a bit of work done, whilst sitting in a train carriage equipped with hot spots.

I love to ride my bicycle

Map of the triangle that includes, Approach Road, Old Ford Road, Sewardstone Road, Victoria Park and names some local schools in the area

Map of the triangle that includes, Approach Road, Old Ford Road, Sewardstone Road, Victoria Park and names some local schools in the area

and yes, I used to do it for a living, when I could not get any other job, I signed up to be a cycle courier and I was 43 at the time and had 5 children, nevertheless I couriered around London, cycling 12 hours per day and carrying weights of up to 30kg on my back.

So I know how difficult it can be to go around London and to avoid riding on pavements. It is simply just the shortest route, especially when one has time pressures. Who can remember the famous pictures of Boris Johnson and David Cameron being caught out cycling in places where they should not be?

View Larger Map
In my local area, e.g. around Sewardstone Road, Approach Road, Old Ford Road, we get a fair amount of cycling on the pavement. People come from the park and continue across the zebra and on the pavement, especially so as the new boulders have been erected to stop a direct descending from the park into Approach Road.

But, as had been mentioned in a recent meeting on Parkview estate, parents bringing their children to Gatehouse School often cycle on pavements, through Parkview estate and not too slow neither. Just yesterday I witnesses a young boy with his father racing around the estate on the way to school.

We all love Gatehouse School as a most valuable addition to our local community and especially also as Gatehouse School now rents the hall from our local church. I know some parents there and had some dealings with them years ago about the fencing to stop local youngsters climbing over their wall to use the play equipment there.

On that point, we hope to improve play facilities in the area very soon and await approval that the play area behind Rosebery House can be revamped.

Back to cycling, I very much welcome the initiative to increase cycling rates but miss the travel infrastructure for this. Here in East London we usually have heavy traffic going in and out of London from cars, Sewardstone Road is especially busy and so is Old Ford that is very narrow.

I however do get alarmed when I walk along with my 4 year old and bikes are zooming past. When I remarked to a Gatehouse parent recently, I was called stupid. I don’t think it is necessary to lower the tone that much, at least, one could answer, I can understand your concern and we could make a working group on how to improve the pedestrian areas and or road to allow for easier cycling routes but nothing of the sort.

Both Approach Road and St James Avenue are very sleepy streets, with hardly any traffic and the path through Parkview estate is used by parents bringing their children to one of the 5 local schools in the morning. Maybe we could improve awareness to take care for cyclists not to alarm pedestrians as to their style of cycling, so that we all can use our footpaths in peace.

I personally disagree with the Mayor on the point of traffic in London. I feel it should be restricted to delivery vehicles and public transport and taxis and allow the rest of the city to become pedestrian areas. The density of traffic in London is alarming and the air quality a concern. I am rather green and to really encourage more cycling one has to reduce the street traffic from cars.

Cyclists, are in a category that doesn’t fit in either with cars or with pedestrians but they are doing the right thing and get my encouragement, but just not too fast on pavements when it can be avoided. The danger is that one is late one morning and realises how fast one can cycle to save time and then tends to cut that little bit of time to be even more economical with time planning and gets faster and faster each day.

If anyone is interested in a working group to improve the traffic infrastructure around East London, here Bethnal Green please get in touch. I wish to thank all parents from a local school who were kind enough to return my questionnaires about cycling on pavements.

I don’t think that our local cycling problem is an isolated one and that this needs addressing everywhere. Hope we can learn from the Dutch who got a great cycling culture.

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