The problem

Previously on Psychobikeology: As a child I resented being carted around in a car all the time, as an adult I loved to get about by walking and cycling and now I’m miffed that cycling is unpleasant because of all the cars.

Whatever. Wouldn’t the easiest solution be to adjust my attitude a bit?

No. The problem is not personal. The transport situation in the UK today – the amount of motor traffic which is tolerated – even thought of as ‘good’ – is damaging. The problem is too much motor traffic and the problem affects everyone, including the folks who love their dear little cars.

Why is there “too much traffic” rather than “not enough roads”? Why are there “too many private cars” rather than “too many petrol engines – we’ll be ok when we’ve finessed electric vehicles and algal biodiesel”? Why is it ‘damaging’?

Here’s the list (linked to the corresponding entries in the dictionary. internal links don’t work in some versions of IE):

Land take
Resource depletion
Social atomisation

Oh and carbon dioxide emissions of course – but I’ve left that off the list (even though it is important) because it is something of a diversion at this point. You will notice that even a non-polluting engine would only take out a few items from the above list.

The other big item is the opportunity cost – too much driving crowds out cycling and walking, preventing a public good.

I’d say that the biggest immediate good of cycling and walking is the health benefit. Just look up ‘health benefits of exercise’. Walking and cycling knock ‘going to the gym’ into a cocked hat because they require less willpower. and they make you feel good.


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