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BS: Living in a car-centric world

CupOfTea 02 Jan 16 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 02 Jan 16 - 11:05 AM
Mr Red 02 Jan 16 - 11:31 AM
GUEST 02 Jan 16 - 12:53 PM
Mysha 02 Jan 16 - 01:41 PM
CupOfTea 02 Jan 16 - 05:23 PM
Greg F. 02 Jan 16 - 05:39 PM
Steve Shaw 02 Jan 16 - 05:52 PM
Gurney 02 Jan 16 - 06:07 PM
DMcG 02 Jan 16 - 06:11 PM
Steve Shaw 02 Jan 16 - 06:37 PM
Thompson 02 Jan 16 - 06:44 PM
Steve Shaw 02 Jan 16 - 07:58 PM
LadyJean 02 Jan 16 - 11:01 PM
Sandra in Sydney 03 Jan 16 - 01:54 AM
Thompson 03 Jan 16 - 01:55 AM
Manitas_at_home 03 Jan 16 - 02:44 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 03 Jan 16 - 03:18 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 03 Jan 16 - 04:15 AM
DMcG 03 Jan 16 - 04:15 AM
DMcG 03 Jan 16 - 04:55 AM
Stu 03 Jan 16 - 04:58 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 03 Jan 16 - 05:06 AM
GUEST,Peter 03 Jan 16 - 06:27 AM
Steve Shaw 03 Jan 16 - 07:13 AM
Steve Shaw 03 Jan 16 - 07:28 AM
Thompson 03 Jan 16 - 08:12 AM
Stu 03 Jan 16 - 08:14 AM
GUEST,Musket 03 Jan 16 - 08:27 AM
GUEST 03 Jan 16 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,Musket 03 Jan 16 - 09:52 AM
Thompson 03 Jan 16 - 09:53 AM
DMcG 03 Jan 16 - 10:26 AM
Stu 03 Jan 16 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 03 Jan 16 - 11:04 AM
Thompson 03 Jan 16 - 11:40 AM
DMcG 03 Jan 16 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,Musket 03 Jan 16 - 12:11 PM
DMcG 03 Jan 16 - 12:19 PM
Steve Shaw 03 Jan 16 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,Musket 03 Jan 16 - 01:52 PM
Mr Red 03 Jan 16 - 03:43 PM
Ebbie 03 Jan 16 - 04:03 PM
Thompson 03 Jan 16 - 07:49 PM
CupOfTea 03 Jan 16 - 09:05 PM
Steve Shaw 03 Jan 16 - 09:26 PM
Thompson 04 Jan 16 - 02:19 AM
GUEST,Musket 04 Jan 16 - 03:29 AM
Manitas_at_home 04 Jan 16 - 05:22 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Jan 16 - 05:40 AM
Thompson 04 Jan 16 - 06:12 AM
Thompson 04 Jan 16 - 06:28 AM
Stu 04 Jan 16 - 07:11 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Jan 16 - 08:36 AM
Thompson 04 Jan 16 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,Musket 04 Jan 16 - 10:42 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Jan 16 - 11:12 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Jan 16 - 11:12 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Jan 16 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,crazy little woman 04 Jan 16 - 12:02 PM
Thompson 04 Jan 16 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 04 Jan 16 - 05:39 PM
Steve Shaw 04 Jan 16 - 06:08 PM
Steve Shaw 04 Jan 16 - 06:10 PM
Thompson 05 Jan 16 - 12:51 AM
GUEST,Musket 05 Jan 16 - 03:42 AM
Steve Shaw 05 Jan 16 - 08:03 AM
Bill D 05 Jan 16 - 11:36 AM
MGM·Lion 05 Jan 16 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,Musket 06 Jan 16 - 03:45 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 06 Jan 16 - 09:34 PM
Thompson 07 Jan 16 - 02:33 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 07 Jan 16 - 02:58 AM
Thompson 07 Jan 16 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 07 Jan 16 - 08:25 AM
Thompson 07 Jan 16 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Musket 08 Jan 16 - 04:14 AM
Thompson 08 Jan 16 - 06:40 AM
Charmion 08 Jan 16 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Musket 08 Jan 16 - 09:51 AM
Thompson 08 Jan 16 - 11:52 AM
GUEST,Musket 08 Jan 16 - 01:10 PM
Thompson 08 Jan 16 - 07:21 PM
Thompson 08 Jan 16 - 07:22 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 09 Jan 16 - 12:53 AM
Thompson 09 Jan 16 - 02:24 AM
GUEST,Charmion's brother Andrew 09 Jan 16 - 02:29 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 09 Jan 16 - 09:49 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 09 Jan 16 - 09:53 PM
Thompson 10 Jan 16 - 08:52 AM
Charmion 10 Jan 16 - 12:16 PM
Thompson 10 Jan 16 - 12:45 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 10 Jan 16 - 08:52 PM
Thompson 11 Jan 16 - 10:42 AM
Jack Campin 04 Apr 17 - 01:50 PM
Iains 04 Apr 17 - 04:47 PM
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Subject: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: CupOfTea
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 09:48 AM

It's not like I have much choice in the matter, y'see. As an American, I know the rest of you may think we 're a bit car crazy, but there are some solid reasons for this love affair. I recently endured the longest period of carelessness since I started driving at 16 - most of the month of December.

While I had, in the (distant) past, taken public transport to art school, I was lots younger, fitter, and uninjured. More significantly, buses and trains ran on a more inclusive number of routes and times back then. The transit system in Cleveland has contracted numerous times, first eliminating street cars, to the more recent dropping of routes & times. The kind of decent carless existence that exists in New York City or Boston is not possible here, outside of a few routes, mostly serving the inner city. Ironic, as the growing population downtown are high income new condo residents, while those of us in the inner ring suburbs have slid from middle class to poverty, and find it difficult to get to work carless.

Fer instance: To work a 4 hour shift one Saturday was a 7.5 hour round trip that included an hour between busses and walking nearly 3 miles. The pain that caused injured knees and feet lingered. It terrifies me that I would not be able to keep my job if this carlessness continued. I have always supported public transit & now, even more so. I'm fortunate (very) in that with good friends, vacation time, rides & car lends I only had to walk few more times, in unseasonably mild weather, and my dear, dead, Grace car has been succeeded by a 2012 low mileage gizmo laden wonder.

I find it sad that a car is necessary to my continued living a reasonable life in the place I have always lived. With mobility issues, it's scarier. Wishing you all ease in getting here you need to go-

Joanne in Cleveland, but not on a bus route


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 11:05 AM

I developed epilepsy, in my 50s, and so can't drive any more because, behind the wheel of a car, I would represent a terrible danger to other road users (as well as to myself!). Fortunately, I live in a major UK city with an excellent public transport system. Even so, my last few years at work were a bit of a struggle at times. Now I'm retired, though, public transport is free*. Nevertheless, in many rural districts public transport has been phased out and many carless elderly people have to rely on relatives, friends and neighbours for essentials like shopping.

I stood on a bridge over one of our local motorways, the other day, and watched hundreds of motor vehicles passing below me. It occurred to me that I was watching institutionalised madness. All of those vehicles poisoning the air and the soil with their emissions and most of them probably going nowhere particularly important. Added to that, so many of our historic towns and cities and vast swathes of our countryside have been wrecked and subordinated to this obsession with cars. But this insanity has become so mundane and ordinary now that the vast majority of people never question it. I suppose that this how our species will slide to extinction, over the next few generations, in a sort of unquestioning fog of mundane madness.

* The age of eligibility for free public transport has been raised recently and it wouldn't surprise me to see it phased out altogether.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Mr Red
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 11:31 AM

I have lived within 15 minutes walk to work for about 15 years of my life. They were very pleasant days, the pressure of work could be shrugged off on the way home. But work sometimes (and moreso these days) has a habit of deserting you.

I take the bus a lot and it is a very different proposition these days. Idiots on phones cursing loudly people who aren't listening, phones that can deliver ear damaging music by earphones prefer to blare over the speaker. And kids that have little discipline, and yoof with muddy boots on seats. Those same idiots, even the self-obsessed say thankyou to the driver. Go figure!

this how our species will slide to extinction - there are many factors that will see us off. The insistence that we feed foodstock with anti-biotics so that the bacteria develop resistence is one vector. We are maybe 5-10 years running ahead of the worst bugs, and they are creeping up on us. Amazingly a couple of academics (biology & forensic archeology) recreated a Saxon recipe for curing a sty (infected eyelash follicle) and found it killed 99% of that bug. She explained it that the bugs in Saxon times probably evolved to circumvent the cure which fell out of favour as an effective solution. And in the intervening years had evolved further and without needing to counter the Saxon cure, & lost the particular resistance. We are doing it all over at an ever quickening pace.

Moore's Law applies in many of Man's endeavours. As Ray Kurzweil (in AI) points out, there will be a singularity. There will be a few!


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 12:53 PM

I am fortunate. I can afford nice guitars. When I say that on here, people want to talk guitars.

I also own two rather fast sports cars, a brand new BMW M3 and a two year old Mercedes SKL AMG. The same people turn into tree huggers...

I am not making a UK v USA point here but because cars have been utility requirements in The USA since the '50s and aspirational over here for many till much later, we tend to require a much higher build standard. When I hire a car in The States, I tend to be shocked by the poor build quality and components of US builds, despite some excellent styling. I also prefer cars that can go round bends....

Public transport works in London, but not really anywhere else. Trains are shockingly priced, buses full of weird people with BO and to be honest, I for one enjoy the pleasure of driving.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Mysha
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 01:41 PM

Hi Joanne,

I can see how you as an individual have need of a car in this situation, but it's hardly a solid reason for the (US) Americans' love affair with cars, is it? After all, it would seem that preference for personal transport over public transport has created the situation you find yourself in. Had Cleveland gone the other way, you would by now probably have been able to take a dial bus to the nearest Metropolitan station, then travel at speed to an appropriate destination station and if necessary ride a street car, or take a rail taxi, to your job.

So, if Bostonians and New Yorkers can live carless, why does the same not apply to the denizens of other metropolitan areas? Why do cars seem to be a requirement even for short distances?

Apart from all that, I hope things will get better for you in the new year.

Bye,
                                                               Mysha


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: CupOfTea
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 05:23 PM

So, if Bostonians and New Yorkers can live carless, why does the same not apply to the denizens of other metropolitan areas? Why do cars seem to be a requirement even for short distances? Because we do not have anything close to the transit infrastructure those places do.

Mysha,                                                        
The key concept is "if Cleveland had gone the other way" Most of the decisions that shaped our use of cars vs public transport were made before I could drive, let alone vote on the issues that caused this situation. In the 60s, we were in the grip of the great freeway building frenzy.

In Ohio we had a Republican Governor who was dedicated to the proliferation of freeways at the expense of public transport. He balked at lots of things that would have made the world a better place, like bottle deposits and recycling. Before my first car,there was popular bumper sticker "Ohio, the litter state, James A. Rhodes, Governor" There was even a failed attempt to ruin a prime, historic section of the eastern suburbs, including paving over the Shaker Lakes! (about that time Cleveland also had a goofy mayor whose hair caught fire during a photo op, and whose wife declined an invite to dinner at the White House because it was her bowling night.) The politicians who ran things then caused the decline in so many ways.

So we never built the public transit infrstructure that Boston or New York or Chicago did, and those of us who have trouble walking distances are at a disadvantage when it comes to using the reduced coverage Regional Transit system we do have. I voted for every levy/scheme/system that came up to improve public transit, but that was too late in the flow of how things work in greater Cleveland.

Joanne in Cleveland with a very nice car that will get lots of carpool use.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Greg F.
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 05:39 PM

There IS no public transport worth the name in the U. S. of A.

Full stop.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 05:52 PM

I have a bus pass and can use all the buses round here for nothing. The only trouble is, there are hardly any buses. I live three-quarters of a mile from the main road and four miles outside Bude, the nearest town, and the road is far too dangerous to walk on. I can't ride a bike any more so the only way I can get to town is by car. The countryside is seriously underpopulated and has been for a hundred years. People who live in small villages and on farms are the lifeblood of the countryside but are completely ignored. My council tax bill is higher than those of most city dwellers, yet I never see a policeman within five miles of my house, the transport system is useless and I have to take my rubbish to the tip five miles away unless I'm happy to see my plastic bags ripped to shreds by foxes and magpies. It's literally true that without car culture there would be no British countryside. You get what you don't pay for. Oh, I forgot: we pay far more for petrol than anyone else in the country, and we have to go far more miles to get anywhere than anyone else.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Gurney
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 06:07 PM

Population growth seems to me to be a major problem. Roads that worked perfectly well 40 years ago are just inadequate today. Roads that were built new 40 years ago, I mean.
Cities once had housing around workplaces, so a trip to work was easy, and often we went afoot, but now cities are a conglomeration of small towns and suburbs around that original city, and the original housing IN that city is mostly gone, for working stiffs anyway, and no provision has been left for new roading to be built from the suburbs where those punters CAN afford a home. And public transport between suburbs is dismally inadequate, so you can only use it to go downtown. Downtown where the only work is for what we call 'suits.'


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: DMcG
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 06:11 PM

While what Steve says is true of many countryside areas, it shouldn't be assumed it is a country problem. I live towards the edge of a major conurbation in England. Not far away is a science park cum offices where I work once a week and can get there during office hours with around 20mins driving. My daughter had a part time job almost opposite but because of her shift pattern I could not take her on that day, and I work elsewhere the rest of the time. To get there by public transport took her almost two hours each way, including a half hour walk from the nearest train station. And it was far more expensive than any petrol cost.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 06:37 PM

I assume you mean that it isn't JUST a countryside problem. I would agree with that. In the case of most of the towns around here, the main shopping areas are either miles out of town or, are, at best, on the peripheries, requiring a drive to get to them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 06:44 PM

CupOfTea, how far is the total journey? Is it cyclable? What are the injuries to your legs and feet?

Completely agree about the car madness. The private car will have to go - it's an unnecessary addition to the carbon footprint, it turns people into lazy obese blobs, it makes people lonely and angry and sad sitting there shouting at the radio all alone rather than chatting and relaxing on a bus or train, it causes enormous wear and tear on the roads, and increasingly it's just too expensive. The idea that we should waste our precious fossil fuel dragging around single people in three-ton cars - insane. And most journeys to work are 3km or under, which is a 15- to 20-minute cycle.

I have free travel on public transport, but mostly cycle. I'd be surprised if the free transport were withdrawn; it's essentially keeping the bus economy going, and also keeping small hotels and B&Bs and shops alive in rural areas that wouldn't get visitors without it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 07:58 PM

The private car isn't going anywhere anytime soon, I'm afraid. The western world is built around it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: LadyJean
Date: 02 Jan 16 - 11:01 PM

I spent most of my life without a car and walked fairly long distances. Now I have a car, with serious issues, and my legs hurt. Meaning trips to the grocery store hurt more.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 01:54 AM

same in Australia - here we have governments working closely with developers (my state's motto - 'New South Wales is open for business', I'm sure they also have a hidden motto 'Greed is good') with road building across the greater metropolitan city, & the historic inner city suburbs. Building up public transport instead would mean many drivers would not need to drive to work, because we do have a (relatively) good & very extensive public transport system.

The biggest plan of all is WestConnex(built by developers) miles & miles of tollways & tunnels which will cost a fortune for those forced to use it to get to & from work. Naturally not everyone agrees with the speil put out by the promoters in their link, & local governments & individuals hose houses & streets are affected are fighting the over-development.

We are also getting a light rail (tram) system (excellent idea, but ...) across the inner city & outwards which will remove houses in historic areas, & many old trees in a major park, but of course NSW is open for business & greed is good.

sandra


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 01:55 AM

Not the entire western world, Steve Shaw. Lots of northern and eastern Europe are built as much around the bicycle, and this is increasing as the practice spreads of cities offering extremely cheap bike hire. Here's the Dublin Bikes version, currently sponsored by Coca Cola, and Paris Velib with its 1,800 stations every 300 metres around the city. (Dublin Bikes charges €20 a year for an annual ticket, a bike is free to use for the first half hour, then 50c for the rest of the hour and €1.50 for up to two hours. In Paris the first 30 minutes are free, the next hour is €1 and the third €2. Everyone uses them - business people, students, shoppers.

Here's how they look after their children in Holland: Dutch children's cycling test


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 02:44 AM

I was in your part of the country last year, Steve. I'm a hardened city cyclist but wouldn't cycle in Cornwall. The roads are far too narrow with no way to get out of the path of oncoming cars and even walking was worrisome.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 03:18 AM

I hate cars!
Here in the UK they park cars anywhere and everywhere.
On the pavement, on beautiful crassy verges, but my pet hate is the half on, half off pavement parking.
That just totally spoils any pleasing symmetry that a road/neighbourhood might have.
AND, cars are helping to produce a species of fat mutants who will probably lose the use of their legs...given time!


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 04:15 AM

"Public transport works in London, but not really anywhere else."

It works pretty well in Manchester, where I live ... unless you want to go from Chorlton to Gatley on New Year's day - but I won't bore you with that!

" ... I take the bus a lot and it is a very different proposition these days. Idiots on phones cursing loudly people who aren't listening, phones that can deliver ear damaging music by earphones prefer to blare over the speaker. And kids that have little discipline, and yoof with muddy boots on seats."

Well, yes, the public transport user does have to put up with the occasional annoyance. My pet hate are the idiots who take an age to get on the bus because they haven't got their money ready or can't find their bus pass or don't know where they're going etc., etc. But I tell myself that this sort of thing is a small price to pay for, otherwise free, public transport.
I had a very surprising experience the other day, though. I had been for lunch and a spot of shopping in a nearby town and was returning home a bit later than usual. The bus wended its way through a large housing estate and eventually stopped outside a large boys' school. I realised, to my horror, that school had just finished for the day and 'my' bus was about to be occupied by lots of 'yoofs'! Sure enough lots of noisy little blighters piled on. I soon realised two things, though. 1. Virtually every ethnic group on earth was represented and 2. in spite of the noise (it was, after all, a Friday afternoon and they were looking forward to the weekend)they were remarkably well behaved - no fighting or swearing or anything really objectionable. In the seat in front of me there was a young black lad and I could see, over his shoulder, that he was reading a text on 'Stellar Evolution'! With kids like that, perhaps things are not so bad after all. Hopefully, their generation will come to their senses and realise that we can't go on as we have been doing?


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: DMcG
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 04:15 AM

I assume you mean that it isn't JUST a countryside problem

Sort of. If we were simply talking logic, yes, quite right, I should have said 'not just'. But we are also talking about who might be involved in addressing the issues, and it would be a mistake to give it a 'countryside issue' label, so that the rest of local and national government could conveniently ignore it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: DMcG
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 04:55 AM

I'd agree public transport works well in Manchester, and add Tyneside to the list. Somehow the loop line to the coast avoided Beeching and became the backbone of a now greatly expanded metro system. It can be done when the will is there.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Stu
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 04:58 AM

Our wonderful local tory council has effectively cut off our village after 5.30pm and Sundays by cutting the bus services. The last bus from town leaves at 5.07pm and so is useless for anyone working and there are no other ways to and from. I walk it in the mornings for the exercise but need top be home to work so for me it's a pain, but we live a village with a fair number of old folk and they are stranded.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 05:06 AM

"Our wonderful local tory council has effectively cut off our village after 5.30pm and Sundays by cutting the bus services."

Trouble is, Stu, the "wonderful" voters in your constituency voted for the "wonderful" Tories!


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 06:27 AM

I have had much the same experience as Shimrod when catching a bus back to my village at 4:15 in the afternoon. Sounds like a cage full of magpies but good behaviour, my grey hairs have even earned me the offer of a seat. With a small company holding the contract the route has a small pool of regular drivers which probably does help the kid's discipline.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 07:13 AM

Well I love to see a bus filled with schoolchildren. The noisier and livelier the better. After all, they've spent all day squashed flat by our repressive, test-driven education system. What I hate is the school run. Narrow streets clogged with parents in posh cars, showing off or squabbling with brats in the back seat rather than concentrating on not actually killing young pedestrians. School finishing time should not be a social gathering for grown-ups. Children should either be walking home on safe paths or catching the bus. I wouldn't allow any car to arrive within half a mile of any school within at least half an hour of starting or finishing time. Let the parents walk the remaining half mile to school and walk with their offspring the half mile back to the car. That way, they get exercise and fresh air and might even stay a bit slimmer. Anyone who dislikes boisterous children on buses has a glaringly easy solution to hand.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 07:28 AM

"... my pet hate is the half on, half off pavement parking"

Unfortunately, we live in a country full of old towns with streets that were planned when mass car ownership wasn't even dreamed about. In my parents' street up north you either park half on the pavement or you concrete your pocket-handkerchief front garden over to make a parking area. Or you ban CERTAIN people, the ones who live in such streets, from having cars. So what's your answer?


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 08:12 AM

My answer would be to make on-street parking really expensive, and build relatively cheap high-rise car parks. Why should parked cars take up space on the roads that could be used for travel?


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Stu
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 08:14 AM

"Trouble is, Stu, the "wonderful" voters in your constituency voted for the "wonderful" Tories!"

It's worse than that. Our local tory MP is a mindless career-minded drone with a personable manner but deeply nasty outlook on life. If you write to him (as I do, often) he sends back either a standard letter spouting the predictable party line or forwards your letter on to a tory minister who then replies spouting the party line.

It's all pretty depressing really.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 08:27 AM

Driving is more than necessary for Mrs Musket and yours truly. We live in a village with no public transport and if there was, it'd be handy for when you want to drink at the other end but otherwise not used.

Mrs Musket needs to get to the hospital 15 miles away at short notice sometimes (she's a doctor) and I drag my sorry arse around thirty odd GP practices in a rural county on a regular basis, and the nearest one to home is 35 miles away.

We both enjoy choosing and driving nice cars and on that basis, we possibly put our cars higher on our budget priorities than some, resulting in cars we enjoy driving. (My latest has so many toys, it's a gadget nirvana.

I used to spend time in a flat in London for work back in the day. I only ever drove there once, to take a load of clothes, couple of guitars etc. I can see how you could live in London without a car, possibly hiring one a couple of times a year for visiting friends and relatives elsewhere.

But for us, as with many, cars aren't a necessary evil, they are part and parcel of us, as personal as choice of clothes, home, football team.

Speaking of which... Steve! Name a team who were "hammered" yesterday.. 😇


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 08:35 AM

Of course the cycling fanatics would tell you that it is your fault for living too far from work. A friend of mine took the advice and bought a flat near the office, the company relocated within the year!


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 09:52 AM

The days of working in one place for your career are over. Travelling to work is not only the norm but unless you want to buy a new house every few years..

I worked around the world before retiring, and even now, having come out of retirement to run a federation of NHS providers, travel is all. Even Mrs Musket, a surgeon at one hospital, travels to four different cities each month for her involvement in academia, planning of care and training junior doctors.

Funnily enough, we do have bikes. Mrs Musket is a bell ringer and uses her bike to go to three different towers her band ring for, and me? Well.. One or two good pubs slightly further than walking distance.

I only worked in one place when I was down the pit. Even then, I spent most of my time with weekly study at college, for which I either caught four buses or bought a car. (I did, £35 from auction, a Moggy 1100.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 09:53 AM

No, the cycling fanatics (aha, the screechy language begins from an anonymous poster - not long before 'brigade' is next) would say that for some people, like Monsignor Musket, driving is necessary, but for an awful lot of people it's not.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: DMcG
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 10:26 AM

Travel to treat patients, yes, that's necessary. Travel for meetings and administration? No, that's a choice these days.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Stu
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 11:02 AM

"as personal as choice of clothes, home, football team"

You don't choose a football team, you're raised as a supporter. You can't compare supporting a football team to liking a car. Football is infinitely more important; a car is a thing.

I'm not much of a fan of cars, they're a necessary evil. The vast majority of people think they're perfectly good drivers when they're not, and the louder they yell the worse they tend to be, and the bigger the car the more entitled they think they are.

I'm a crap driver with little aptitude for it at all, and would gladly walk and use public transport if the sodding tory ballbags hadn't taken it away from our village. The train is different, we can get into Manchester in a smidgen over 20 mins now and London in 1hr 45mins. Buy early or off-peak and it's as cheap as chips. Brill.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 11:04 AM

I saw one of those Police documentaries ('Traffic Cops' or something similar) the other night. In the course of the programme a bloke got stopped and breathalysed and found to be over the drink-drive limit; he was, of course, arrested. It turned out that he was on his way home from the pub - which was less than half-a-mile from his house! I don't think that I need to add more ... ?


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 11:40 AM

What they're doing in Groningen.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: DMcG
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 11:56 AM

Another problem is people get obsessed with their cars out of all proportion. Around eight years ago while manoevering in quite a tight spot I reversed into a parked car at two or three miles an hour. I went back into my parking place, got out and checked and there was a slight scuff to his (or her) bumper - A number of small scratches around a centimetre square. I hung around a minute or two looking and then as no one came out of the houses I left. The total damage would cost perhaps £5 if you did it yourself to maybe £30 if you called in a specialist (which is what the corresponding work on mine cost)

Then about three days later I got a letter from the police about leaving the scene of a accident, etc etc and potential court action. I wrote back, with descriptions and photos of the corresponding damage on my car, agreeing it was entirely my fault and offering to pay for any damage, but heard no more about it. But the cost in police time would be many times the cost of the damage to his (or her) precious bit of plastic bumper.


Again, a few years ago my wife - who is a much better driver than I am - accidentally reversed into a concrete bollard which was low enough not to be visible through the rear window. My only concern was whether she was all right and not shocked. As for the car, who cares?


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 12:11 PM

Your football team chooses you Stu. I had no choice in the matter because Sheffield Wednesday are the true enlightened path and I have been worshipping at the altar since Tommy Craig was taking communion. However, I'm a football fan. My comment was aimed at a wider audience.

DMcG said something strange above. Obviously knows far more about what I said than perhaps I do? Ignorance is bliss. Reminds me of a charity I did some voluntary work for years ago. I went to a regional meet of Rotary Clubs who wished to consider giving us some money. "How much of your income is spent on management and administration?" Someone asked. "Approximately 100%". I said, truthfully. Needless to say, they supported the cause.

I don't worry too much about bikes. I'm happy to allow them to be on my roads and the money I spend on the upkeep of the road isn't too much really. We can afford the odd freeloader. It's just their lack of adherence to The Highway Code and that higher plane of existence they seem to inhabit that gets my goat.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: DMcG
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 12:19 PM

I don't claim to know more about your needs than you do, Musket. Simply that many companies including the one I work with hold many of their meetings with one or more people attending via Skype or similar. It would be good for the environment and indeed be more efficient in time if we resurrected the wartime slogan "Is your journey really necessary?"


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 12:46 PM

Beeching closed the railway in north Cornwall fifty years ago. We've just had a massive fight with the bus company to reinstate the Sunday service from Bude to Exeter. Apropos of that service, a day in Exeter by bus entails at least four hours' travel, as opposed to two by car, and there's the additional not-so-slight problem of getting to and from Bude at each end of the trip. Realistically, to make the trip useful you have to choose between only a couple of buses a day, and the last one leaves Exeter by late afternoon. The bus service is next to useless for connecting with trains at Exeter St David's. Perhaps our resident car-haters would suggest that we simply abandon the countryside altogether...

As for cycling, for years when we first moved here I cycled the 22-mile return trip to work and back every day, whatever the weather, and it's windy round here, and the return trip involved 1500 feet of climbing each time. I thought nothing of it, until my right knee went bang.

Whether we like it or not, we live in the world of the car. There may well be oases of super public transport here and there (I've lived in London and Manchester so I do know), but that is not the case for vast tracts of the country. To put it bluntly, I'm stuffed without my car, and it isn't necessarily my fault.

As for charging a fortune for on-street parking in residential areas, tell me (a) how that's fair when rich people with big houses wouldn't have to pay (and you can't even park on the road outside their drive entrances!), and (b) how any politician who suggested it would survive.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 01:52 PM

A hell of a lot of Skype and similar meetings go on in just about every industry, and my interfering in NHS and other healthcare over the last eighteen years introduced me to the concept. I reckon if it had been around thirty years ago, I wouldn't have spent the next twenty in airport departure lounges looking at delay screens.

That said, I am contracted to give six lectures a year at a university and I couldn't even begin to consider anything other than a lecture theatre with me facing the students.

I'll tell you what though, and speaking as an ex regulator looking at where clinical work goes wrong, often with disastrous results for a patient.. The multi disciplinary team approach (MDT) for review of cancers (a weekly review of all new patients by surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists etc) has less errors when everybody at "MDT" is in the same room. Clinical people, especially junior doctors wishing to get a few publications under their belt, carry out countless audits of this and I couldn't really argue with the evidence. Incidentally, patient record confidentiality under UK law precludes "open" software to be used for such virtual meetings which is fine within a trust but a bit of a bugger when trusts, universities, government bodies, social services Uncle Tom Cobbkey and all are involved. Hence Mrs Musket's travel too.

I am skyping with our accountants tomorrow funnily enough. Although later in the week I am in London because one of the largest law firms in bloody Europe prefer face to face with clients....

Anyway. Like I said. I enjoy my car. It certainly isn't a utility A to B. Like the contributor above, I think of it in the same way as my guitars, or skis & boots, HiFi etc. Always have, whether able to afford decent gear in recent years or nursing old bangers in my youth.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Mr Red
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 03:43 PM

An Oklahoma City Mayor seems to have realised the cost of the car and how he made a difference:
Mick Cornette on TED.com video


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 04:03 PM

In large parts of the USA cycling paths and roadways have been installed, making pedaling a good deal more pleasant. This is true even in Alaska, whose weather is often not conducive to hazard-free travel. I'm glad to see that happen and hope to see much more of it.

I use buses, not bikes. I haven't owned a car in more than 25 years nor have I had the routine use of one in more than 15 years.

I have a question, though: Where are the community assemblies in your cities that can be petitioned for redress? In Juneau, Alaska, where I live, we have brought about many changes.

For instance, when I arrived here just about 28 years ago, our bus service was hourly with no Sunday service and few covered bus stops. Now our buses run every half-hour, bus routes have been expanded into neighborhoods and almost all stops are covered and encased. "Three-step' buses have all been replaced with 'kneeling' curb-parallel new ones with ramps and tie-downs for wheelchairs on all buses. With a tax exemption card, travel for the elderly and disabled is free, students of all ages are either free or half the price of adults.

Our population is just over 31,000 with no outlying towns or cities so we are basically on our own but our services equal or exceed that of many larger towns. And we got it by documenting needs, getting our population on board, attending Assembly sessions and petitioning them. (If we don't like individual Assembly members we replace them through the voting process.)

We have successfully presented our (elected) City Assembly with a number of other problems. For instance, our public libraries are now open 7 days a week, when they were not before; that feat was accomplished by closing the facilities earlier on some days so that they needn't hire more workers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 07:49 PM

Small correction, Musket: your car tax doesn't pay for the roads, it's a carbon tax. All of us pay tax that goes to maintain the roads along with other infrastructure. The amount of tax you pay depends on your car's level of emissions.

Here's a short piece on the carbon emissions produced by driving.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: CupOfTea
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 09:05 PM

All the commentary on bikes makes me terribly nostalgic for grad school in DeKalb Illinois. I biked to most of my classes, the grocery store, about town. When I came home, I continued to bike for groceries till the store closed and relocated 2.5 miles farther away.

We do have a nice proliferation of bike paths, lanes, and even busses with bike racks on the front. I have been unable to use them, much as I enjoy biking, since carpal tunnel injuries with intermitent numbness make using the hand brake and gear shifts painful to numbingly impossible. Some of the more pleasant results of urban up scaling is that I see folks jogging, dog walking and biking in places that where years ago we'd never have dared, way too dangerous. I do dream that I might be able to join them some time if I can get my knee and hands fixed.

Of course, when winter comes to Siberia-on-the-Heights, it will be too risky for any but the most fit and fearless and lucky to do any of that. We get what I familiarly called "lake effect snow" which makes getting places difficult for everything even the heavy duty vehicles. And I live in the leading edge of "the snow belt." I've been fascinated to read others' take on car dependence, and wryly comforted to know that the political planners elsewhere are as short sighted as our own.

The new car took me to church today, along with a friend who had been giving ME rides to work, and we celebrated by having my pastor bless the car, and dedicate it to good use. This experience, and your comments, has me thinking more clearly about my own car usage.

Joanne in Siberia-on-the-Heights


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Jan 16 - 09:26 PM

Well that's a great post, Joanne. Many of us who are genuinely forced to use cars, for all sorts of reasons, don't feel great about it, and it would be easy to put all the blame on to bad political planning, etc., but, on the whole, we don't. We can just do our best to drive cars that are economical on fuel and to be as considerate to other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians, as we can. The world is the way it is and we have to get by. I might not go so far as to having my car blessed, however! :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 02:19 AM

CupOfTea, you could get a European bike with the kind of brake where you backpedal to brake. Gear shifts on modern bikes are part of the handlebars, but you sound too wounded even to use them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 03:29 AM

It's road tax actually Thompson. The rate uses a carbon emission calculator, hence my latest car, despite having two extra cylinders, 80 more BHP blah blah costs less per year than my last car. Witchcraft engine technology. (Though in reality, cheats such as stop start technology and brake energy charging tick the boxes I suppose.)

It's still a road tax though. Like any tax, it is not ring fenced. If you have a car with £0 to pay, you still have a virtual tax disc and need to declare SORN etc so the idea of bikes being part of the carbon scale for road use is not supported in law.

Still, I don't mind them using my road. The road racing concerns me though. How you are supposed to clock your time competitively whilst driving with due care and attention is beyond me. The least they can do, if they must wear spandex, is observe The Highway Code. I do when I'm on my bike, so why don't they?

Spandex. If it really were a car centric world, that stuff would never sell. The only concession to driving wear I ever made was not wearing a make of jeans with rather protruding studs at the rear pocket tops. It can bugger up leather seats.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 05:22 AM

You don't get the point. It's not your road any more than anyone elses. All taxpayers pay for the building and upkeep of roads. The extra levy on motorists is to offset the pollution caused (and doesn't even begin to pay for that). If cyclists are going to be expected to pay at the same rate as motorists then we would have to be allowed to use motorways and have on street parking provision.

See http://ipayroadtax.com/


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 05:40 AM

I cycled thousands of miles every year but I would never wear that skin-tight, bollock-strangling, silly-looking cycling gear. I wore footwear that didn't clank or look ludicrous as soon as I dismounted, preferring toe clips with adjustable straps, a piece of cake to use and highly efficient. In summer it was baggy cycling shorts and in winter anything long and loose except round the ankles. I'll concede the need to be highly visible. To me, the whole point of riding my bike was to enjoy having all my senses working in the fresh air, and, hopefully, sunshine. I had a Claud Butler Majestic when having a "Claud" actually meant something and I always fitted it with sensible 32mm touring tyres to take the bumps on Westcountry lanes, and always fitted a Brooks B-17 seat. I used a Carradice cotton duck saddle bag and remember one day cycling home from Holsworthy with 17lb of meat from the butcher and two sets of exercise books to mark. Today's cycling hordes, on their stiff bikes and ultra-narrow tyres that seem designed specifically to be as uncomfortable as possible, look like aliens on a mission. They also look unfailingly miserable. Well cycling for me was sheer enjoyment, though I didn't exactly hang about. I can't begin to imagine why cyclists are now seen as the enemy. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 06:12 AM

The narrow tyres and frames are to lessen wind resistance. The Spandex is comfortable for fast cycles. Not for me either, but those who use both swear by them. There was a sportive in Dublin a couple of months back in which around 3,000 people cycled - all shapes and sizes and ages of humans, but virtually all of them on good modern bikes, and wearing Spandex, because it wicks off sweat and keeps you warm enough and cool enough, and doesn't chafe. Two routes, 60km and 100km; they started around 8am and most of them were back around by 2pm.
Here, and also in Britain, I think (?) there's a Bike to Work scheme that allows working people to buy bicycles through their wages, with huge tax relief, on condition they actually use them to ride to work. You can get a bike for 52% off the full price if you're on a high tax rate. Both tax and social insurance are taken off the price. This and the citybike schemes have increased the numbers of people cycling a lot, especially young men. However, we could do with a training programme and a few TV programmes on cycling around the world; some of these young men cycle in the way they're used to driving, selfishly and boorishly.
In the Netherlands, kids start learning how to cycle in traffic once they're in creche, using tricycles and a track laid out like a road, with 'traffic lights'. It's a natural part of their education. Then they do a cycling exam on a street route when they're 11, and after passing that they can cycle alone to school. But virtually all of them will have cycled with their mothers and fathers before that - first in the box of a backfiets, then on their own small two-wheelers beside their parents, learning how to go calmly and make the subtle Dutch signals and see others' signals and judge when to cross traffic safely in this country with few traffic lights.
The rest of Europe is gradually moving towards more bicycles and fewer cars in cities, and cycletouring is becoming a huge thing around Europe; America may go its own way or may follow.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 06:28 AM

Interesting piece comparing British and Dutch infrastructure in terms of child safety.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Stu
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 07:11 AM

" The rate uses a carbon emission calculator, hence my latest car, despite having two extra cylinders, 80 more BHP blah blah costs less per year than my last car."

So you think. They could well be lying to you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 08:36 AM

Narrow tyres, narrow frames and shaved legs will not reduce wind resistance by a noticeable amount at normal cycling speeds. A narrow tyre may reduce road resistance but it will also be less comfortable and more prone to punctures. You will get a far more comfortable ride with a slightly wider slick tyre and you'll be going almost as fast, if that's what you think riding a bike should be all about. I never seemed to have a problem keeping up with the road racer boys around here as I batted along on my ten-speed Claud as long as I wasn't laden with a bagful of sausages and exercise books. A nice, lightweight, responsive frame and a good leather seat obviate the need for all those silly shock absorbers that waste so much energy in up and down motion. And no girly frames that were only invented to preserve the dignity of Edwardian ladies in long skirts. They're hopeless.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 09:24 AM

Tis true, up to a point. New technology has produced solid tyres that don't puncture and are comfortable; their grip is said to be slightly less, though. It's also produced far lighter bikes - my Dawes weighs 20 kilos; its modern equivalent weighs 9 kilos, mainly because the strengthened aluminium frame is lighter than the old steel frames.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 10:42 AM

If it were a Volkswagen I'm sure it would be lying about something Stu. Who knows what the real emissions are? I just know it's a hell of a lot more powerful but about £100 less a year in car tax. And it ain't a VW.

My bike is a Claude Butler too. They (used to) make, (now just assemble) them over in Brigg, not far from chez Musket. Ok, my carbon footprint on the bike could be lower than it is for two reasons. I fart pedalling back from the pub and it is an electric assist bike, charged from the mains, or Drax Coal Power Station as it's known.

Mind you, it's bloody heavy, as I realised properly when the battery died and I had to pedal home sans buzzing front wheel.

Mrs Musket bought her brother's Orange light weight bike, carbon fibre this that and the other, but then added a handlebars basket like Miss Marples. In some ways, it looks dafter than spandex on the bloke next door when he goes with his racing mates on a Sunday afternoon.

It's a car centric world. Like Mr Mercury, I'm in love with my car.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 11:12 AM

Lamentably, my cycling days are all but over, though I can still manage a jaunt along the Camel and Tarka Trails on my old Specialised hybrid. In 1993 I did over 6000 miles just commuting to work and going on Sunday jaunts, strictly fun, never any competing. I never rode with anyone who could keep up, all that hill-climbing giving me legs like iron. In 1990 I rode from Radcliffe to Bude on me tod, 325 miles in four days, carrying two full panniers and my saddlebag and staying in youth hostels. The worst bit wasn't the hills, which I never gave a thought to, but crossing the dead flat Somerset Levels into a strong headwind. We bought a Dawes tandem in 1994 and we could get over 40mph down the hill to Widemouth, exceeding the speed limit by over 10 mph. Sadly, my knee soon to put an end to our riding that beauty of a bike. My recollection is a little vague, but I think my Claud weighed in at about 28lb, around 13 kilos maybe. The frame was Reynolds 531 double-butted throughout and was a bit stiffer than an average touring bike's, which made it nice and swift without being too jarring. Two chain wheels, ten-speed, both changers on the down-tube, none of your fancy indexing that always seems to need adjusting. They don't make 'em like that any more!


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 11:12 AM

Lamentably, my cycling days are all but over, though I can still manage a jaunt along the Camel and Tarka Trails on my old Specialised hybrid. In 1993 I did over 6000 miles just commuting to work and going on Sunday jaunts, strictly fun, never any competing. I never rode with anyone who could keep up, all that hill-climbing giving me legs like iron. In 1990 I rode from Radcliffe to Bude on me tod, 325 miles in four days, carrying two full panniers and my saddlebag and staying in youth hostels. The worst bit wasn't the hills, which I never gave a thought to, but crossing the dead flat Somerset Levels into a strong headwind. We bought a Dawes tandem in 1994 and we could get over 40mph down the hill to Widemouth, exceeding the speed limit by over 10 mph. Sadly, my knee soon to put an end to our riding that beauty of a bike. My recollection is a little vague, but I think my Claud weighed in at about 28lb, around 13 kilos maybe. The frame was Reynolds 531 double-butted throughout and was a bit stiffer than an average touring bike's, which made it nice and swift without being too jarring. Two chain wheels, ten-speed, both changers on the down-tube, none of your fancy indexing that always seems to need adjusting. They don't make 'em like that any more!


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 11:14 AM

Grrr. I waited ages for it to take, double-checked that it hadn't, so had another go. Now look what's happened. Grrr.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 12:02 PM

"And no girly frames that were only invented to preserve the dignity of Edwardian ladies in long skirts."

Not so. My husband is a fit 63, but he cannot swing his leg over a 'boy's bike' any more.

If you ever bounce off your bicycle seat and your genitals come crashing down on the crossbar of a bike, you will know the benefits of 'girl's bike'.

Bike sellers now call such bikes 'step-through bikes.'
==============
About cars: I live in a widespread city in a huge country. I like driving and I love having a car. Sue me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 01:06 PM

Also, if you're a small woman the "women-specific design" frames are nicer to ride - Giant make these - different angles on the frame - and the Dutch women's bikes also have a nicer shape for a woman.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 05:39 PM

"About cars: I live in a widespread city in a huge country. I like driving and I love having a car. Sue me."

It always comes down to one of these, doesn't it?

- I need to drive (mainly because the culture in which I live is based on the assumption of universal car ownership).

- I like driving

- I love my car

All of which avoid questioning our car-based, car-obsessed culture and what it is leading to. Remember that cars have only existed for a tiny fraction of human history and a civilisation based around the car cannot be sustainable for many more generations.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 06:08 PM

The geometry of a "woman's frame" (yes, still talking about bikes!) leads to a heavy and unresponsive ride. Just too much like hard work and not enough like fun. A good bike shop will advise you on a bike that fits your build, not only with regard to frame size but also in respect of saddle choice, saddle height and handlebar reach. There may be special cases for both sexes with regard to infimities, etc., but, on the whole, the basic diamond frame is the most efficient for almost everyone, and can be tweaked. Another point is that stock bikes with women's frames are almost invariably cheap, and with bikes cheap means heavy. As for accidentally coming off your seat and crashing your family jewels on the crossbar, well I've cycled many tens of thousands of miles and it's never happened to me (I still possess a golden baritone voice, let's put it that way). That being the case, in consideration of anatomical matters, I'd have thought that the girls were at even less risk!


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 06:10 PM

infirmities


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 05 Jan 16 - 12:51 AM

When you're talking about "woman's frame" Steve, you mean the classic High Nelly version of the step-through?

My current bike, the Dawes is a 1970s or so version of this. While heavy, I dont' find it unresponsive. Nicest bike I ever had was one of the original Claud Butlers, so long on the wheelbase that you could take the hands off the handlebars and sail along forever. It had one of those bendy top tubes. 30lb weight but beautifully responsive.

A version of the WSD (women-specific design) bikes is this Liv Avail - I've ridden it and it's fairly frisky. I find its version of the step-through a little too high for standing at the traffic lights waiting to set off again, though.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 05 Jan 16 - 03:42 AM

My bike looks as if it's a woman's bike. It's a Dutch style really and what with my back held together with pins, makes it easier to get on. Cocking of leg hasn't been my strong point since 1983.

Being rather tall as well as not very flexible has limited my car choice somewhat too. I have a saloon and my son couldn't see why I didn't go for the better looking coupé version. Too low for getting into. Mrs Musket has a two seater sports car with open top. I might convince myself I look like Joe Cool in it, but the illusion buggers up somewhat when you see me getting in and out doing an impression of a hermit crab borrowing a too small a shell.

Yeah, we are car centric. I've a Triumph Stag in bits in a lock up, waiting for me to get interested again. My present car cost three times my first house and I could buy a new Martin guitar every month with what the repayments would be had I bought it on finance rather than spending the kids' inheritance.

Odd when you think about it. I turn lights off to save energy, put on a jumper rather than turn up the heating, make a point of using all the food we buy, I've solar panels, newish insulation, get happy when energy bills slightly lower, grow all my own veg etc etc.

Then ignore all that when I get in my car.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Jan 16 - 08:03 AM

Your High Nelly pic depicts the worst of the worst! The Liv Avail looks much nicer, basically quite a normal looking diamond frame with a tweak of the top tube. Getting a leg over could be an issue for some people, but these days you get nice bikes like the one in your pic and you can go for a smaller frame and put the seat up. I think that quite a few people ride bikes that are a bit too big. The missus and are both seasoned cyclists over many decades and we both ride bikes with horizontal top tubes. I've just been chatting to her about this and neither of us have ever regarded landing on our crutches on the top tube as even a remotely-worrying issue.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Jan 16 - 11:36 AM

Greg F. said way back up there ^

"There IS no public transport worth the name in the U. S. of A."

I must disagree... the Washington D.C. metro area, being one of the most traffic-congested areas, has a pretty good system. Of course, it IS possible to find a place to live that is way down a side street or at the end of an odd lane where access is a problem, but most folks live within a 5-10 minute walk of bus or subway.
Not only that, but bike lanes are being added, a new trolley line has just been added in D.C., and studies are under way for MORE transit. The current drop in gas prices has cut ridership, as people will choose their private car when it saves them a bit of time & money, but the situation WILL make public transit more & more necessary in the future.

Nothing will change the need for a car for some purposes... you can't easily do family grocery shopping on a bike.. or take 4 instruments to a sing on the other side of town... but I know a woman who is blind who often goes to sings. (She 'sometimes' asks for a ride from the bus stop, but can do the major parts of the trip on her own.)

The USA is a very big place, and motor vehicles (including trains) are all that make it possible to get around. Elon Musk is trying to see that alternate forms of power are available in the future. We shall see.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Jan 16 - 12:35 PM

Longish time since I visited the States; but I recollect the NY Subway as a pretty efficient system.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 03:45 AM

They've finished building it since you were there Michael.

😎


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 09:34 PM

"Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town"

In 1900BCE Americans built the California Cycleway but they gave up (bi)cycles for automobiles before construction was even finished. So they built the Pacific Electric "Red Car" surface rail system to replace it. At one time the largest network of its kind on the planet.

They still gave that up for automobiles as fast as they could buy them. Then they complained about the traffic jams Red/Yellow Cars running on surface streets caused and didn't want to pay the premium taxes for rail in elevated medians for an already declining ridership. So they buried both systems under America's first parkway; the now obsolescent Arroyo-Seco.

LA/Pasadena's current public system (bus & rail) is running at less than half it's design cap. The various Bike Master Plans, even if fully implemented, wouldn't hold a candle to the 1900 Cycleway vision.

Meanwhile American consumers are looking to Lyft-Uber-Skype-Prime leaving urban planners and regulators with that same old 'deer in the headlights' look on their faces.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 02:33 AM

Maybe AD 1900 ;)

Here's how Copenhagen does it.

I scrapped my car a while ago, regretfully - I love driving - because I realised that it was just ridiculously expensive. I used to use it for work, but most of the work had dried up, and for shorter journeys I was cycling. The only time I was using the car was for bringing the dog to the park or the sea, or occasionally to drive across the country. But it was costing me a minimum of €2,000 a year in tax, insurance, parts, etc. Then it failed the NCT fairly comprehensively, because of rust in the boot. Having seen the aftermath of a tragic accident years ago when a girl's arm was sheared off and she bled to death after her boyfriend's old banger separated its top from its chassis, I'm very nervous of body rust. So that was that.

The only thing I regret is the trips to the sea or across the country - I still travel around the country a fair bit, on trains. Everything else is done on the bike or occasionally the bus. And I'm becoming more and more aware of how harmful the car culture is. Over the Christmas, seven people were killed by cars in Ireland. Seven precious lives lost that can never be given back! How do we not ask questions about that?


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 02:58 AM

"The only thing I regret is the trips to the sea or across the country - I still travel around the country a fair bit, on trains. Everything else is done on the bike or occasionally the bus. And I'm becoming more and more aware of how harmful the car culture is."

Like you, Thompson, I had to give up my car (in my case because of health issues) and the harm that car culture does, and is doing, became more and more apparent to me too. I don't have any children of my own but I live opposite a primary school and when I hear those happy little voices in the playground, I can't help worrying about what state the world will be in when those kids grow up.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 05:01 AM

Just discovered the story of Graeme Obree, whose home-made bike revolutionised velodrome cycling - and ideas about cycling aerodynamics. Banned for his success. A very Mudcattish story.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 08:25 AM

"BCE"

What? You've never heard of:
http://polaris.hs.llnwd.net/o40/ind/2016/img/community/stories/history-photos/indian-biker.jpg

"Copenhagen"
Yah, those pics are always in spring & summer. Friend tried to get me to ride about this time of year. "A little cold, no wind, what's the big deal?" he says. It was minus five outside and there was six inches of snow on the seats. Bleeping Viking.

Serious. Even when they emmigrate to the U.S. most Europeans I know own bikes like Americans own cars. Two at a time. A town beater for weekdays and a racer for the weekends.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 11:18 AM

Odd. I posted and the post cycled off into the mountains and disappeared.

What I was saying was that in Ireland our attitude (within limits) is "Rain? What rain? There's no such thing as rain, just a lack of rain gear."

And that modern tubeless tyres have changed things for a lot of people; mostly no punctures any more.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 04:14 AM

Shimrod's neighbouring kids will grow up to want to drive cars, just like any normal kid.

Car sales are up, boyant and one of the few sectors propping up the pension payments to those sat whinging about them.

They pollute far less than ever, even VWs funnily enough, they give social mobility and with the job market changing over the years, allow more people to work without the huge cost and upheaval of moving house. Considering the negative equity for many not in London, that alone makes them a lifeline for otherwise struggling families.

Am I thinking about Syria? Yes. Am I thinking about Osborn's slow admittance that his measure for the economy aren't working? Yes. Am I thinking about pollution and global warming? Yes.

But right now, I am concentrating on long range weather forecasts and whether to put my winter wheels on yet.

Car centric world. Later this year, both versions of Top Gear will be on the goggle box and I for one can't wait. Even bought an Amazon Firestick ready.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 06:40 AM

What's an Amazon Firestick?


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Charmion
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 09:29 AM

I went to the doctor's the other day.

He used to have a suite of offices in a slightly tatty high-rise next to the Ottawa Civic Hospital, cleverly located on three major bus routes and handy to the ER if something went wrong. Parking in that area is scanty and expensive, but I didn't use it so I did not care. Last summer, the doc moved his practice to an industrial park way out in the south end, a journey of more than an hour by bus from my front door. I hate to think how long it would take to get to the nearest hospital from there, but many of the other patients were thrilled: the place offers acres and acres of parking lot.

Monday was bitterly cold with a snell wind, after a heavy wet snowstorm. Said parking lot was jammed from edge to edge with vehicles of all kinds, and what little exposed asphalt remained was covered with lumpy ice. Walking across it felt like retreating from Moscow.

In fact, the entire neighbourhood is hostile to pedestrians, with sidewalks (footpaths) on only one side of four- and six-lane arterial roads and hardly any trees. Standing at the bus stop takes determination, as the wind feels as if it comes directly from Ellesmere Island.

Using public transit for my monthly visit (I get a needle every four weeks) is a colossal time-eater (quite apart from the physical misery it entails in winter), and if I still had a paid job I could not justify it. That industrial park, and its parking lot, are glaring symbols of everything that is expensively wrong with North American car culture -- but there isn't a darn thing I can do about it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 09:51 AM

In my case, an Amazon Firestick is a piece of plastic designed to put Clarkson, May and Hammond on my telly later this year. To be fair, it gives a more stable BBC iPlayer than my BT Vision box and an excellent YouTube.

Ok.. I've streamed a couple of movies too, but it's really for my original purpose...

North America may or may not be car centric, but it certainly isn't pedestrian friendly. I used to wonder why I always told people Boston was my favourite American city. It's the pavements and encouragement to walk round the place, I'm sure. Funnily enough, Banff in Canada is good for the same reasons.

Here, we have a more balanced approach. But in either continent or others, there is no problem whatsoever in enjoying cars.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 11:52 AM

Ahh. Horses for courses. I found the Top Gear boys mildly entertaining until Clarkson punched his producer for not being able to conjure up a hot dinner when he was late back from the pub. Now I can't look at them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 01:10 PM

i know. I can't eat celery since seeing footage of Hitler chewing a stalk.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 07:21 PM

In today's Guardian: diesel vehicles have already caused London to breach its pollution limits, one week into 2016.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 07:22 PM

Sorry, that should have been its *annual* pollution limits - something went wrong with the coding when I copied in the blue clicky.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 09 Jan 16 - 12:53 AM

The best thing about Boston transportation was the Magliozzi brothers.

Being without a car in 2016 America is a lot like being a child again... or your great-grandparent. Face it, any country that produces "Born to be Wild" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" in the same year is committed to its four fendered friends.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 09 Jan 16 - 02:24 AM

11 years later, though, they made Breaking Away (though it's the kind of film that isn't made any more in America, I think, a film that's proudly about working-class people).


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Charmion's brother Andrew
Date: 09 Jan 16 - 02:29 PM

Thompson wrote, "11 years later, though, they made Breaking Away (though it's the kind of film that isn't made any more in America, I think, a film that's proudly about working-class people)."

"Yay, Cutters!"


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 09 Jan 16 - 09:49 PM

"Breaking Away" the best American cycling movie in a category where second best plumb evades me. But the "Cutters" plotline was pure contrivance. If anything it was 1970's Hollywood moviemakers that were in trouble.

Somewhere between architectural-decorative concrete and Formica,® the Bloomington quarries and cutter unions were all but ancient history. I doubt anybody's grandfather could remember a time before RCA and Thomson and General Electric. They all had tuition reimbursement so the "U" was doing good local business and consumer electronics workers all wanted a college education for their own kids.

If only they had known then what we know now about electronics and consumers. Hey I'm still holding out for the SelectaVision! nostalgia revival. Aren't we all? And so the thread drifts full circle back to Joanne's situation in Cleveland today. Deindustrialization. No more factories, no more factory jobs.

Cleveland is/was a factory town. It's the western terminus of the Ohio & Erie Canal which was America's first major transportation project. Later railroads and highways followed the same routes. Chicago was bigger than New York. Cleveland waterways used to catch fire so often you lost track of when. Today that entire quadrant of the U.S. is refered to as the "Rust Belt" with Detroit as the poster child. It's no co-inkydink Rachel Carson hailed from the same parts. Something had to give.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 09 Jan 16 - 09:53 PM

"It's not that easy bein' green."

Mysha: "So, if Bostonians and New Yorkers can live carless, why does the same not apply to the denizens of other metropolitan areas?"

2013 Populations:
New York: 8,406,000
Boston: 646,000
Cleveland 390,000

So for any given bus route or subway line there are fewer commuter dollars to work with in Cleveland than New York or Boston. Most rail won't work at all and buses would needs be fewer and smaller. The city itself would need to get denser (less service in the 'burbs, etc.)

Keep on truckin' Joanne, with your ballot and your feet. It's never too late to get it wrong. At some point in the distant future it will be our turn to be the villians anyway ;)


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 08:52 AM

Phil d'Conch says:
2013 Populations:
New York: 8,406,000
Boston: 646,000
Cleveland 390,000


Groningen 197,823
Amsterdam 832,563
Copenhagen 583,348


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Charmion
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 12:16 PM

When you're talkin' transit, the density of a population is as significant as its size, if not more so.

Like just about any European city you care to name, New York has transit that works because it is an old city with a pre-automobile layout and a very dense population.

Low-density cities like Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and, I guess, Cleveland, grew up with the car, and are consequently designed to accommodate drivers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 12:45 PM

Good point.

Los Angeles: 3,928,864 (density 3,198/km2)
Dallas: 1,197,816 (density 1,407/km2)
Cleveland: 396,815 (density 1,971.8/km2)

Groningen 197,823 (density 2,535/km2)
Amsterdam 832,563 (density 4,908/km2)
Copenhagen 583,348 (density 6,800/km2)

and for that matter, since we're always told we can't (sob) have a subway because our population is too spread out,

Dublin 527,612 (density 4,588/km2)

- though anyone who would think of that population as Dublin's would meet gapes of astonishment, since most people count the metropolitan area's 1,801,040 as Dublin's population. Can't see a density figure for that area.

What Dublin is doing is running the city bikes scheme within the two canals that form a circle around the city proper, and gradually expanding the number of stations within that area. Both inside the canal-bordered area and outside, cycle paths are being built. These start with basic painted lines, then as they're taken up move to a red surface, and in a few cases have progressed to proper separated cycle lanes. One of these goes a couple of kilometres along the Grand Canal bank; others are through parks, by the sea and so on.

Cycling has grown exponentially in the past couple of years, and some drivers are finding this hard to cope with; it's good for the city, though, and good for the health of the citizens.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 08:52 PM

"...the density of a population is as significant as its size..."
Tokyo: 13.5M (6,038/km2)
http://photomichaelwolf.com/#tokyo-compression/1

Even a city like Boston isn't "carfree" by any stretch of the imagination but there's a big difference between "mass transit" and "motor transport" projects. Boston could never take on something like the "Big Dig" on its own nor should it be expected to. That's Federal, State and Local budget for the I-93/95 corridors. Same holds for Cleveland's I-71/77/80/90 freeways.

"The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways" is a real bit of naming irony given his "military-industrial complex" speech. It being one of the biggest and most consistent boondoggles of the genre and all. Hard to blame him tho, after experiencing America's old piecemeal "Lincoln Highway" coast-to-coast the German's Reichsautobahn must have been a real eye-opener for a General of the Army keen on logistics and all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Thompson
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 10:42 AM

Tokyo, like all Japanese cities, towns and even villages, is a special case, because transport is approached from a bottom-up viewpoint. There are train stations within, I'd say, every kilometre, and beside each station, or virtually all stations, is a long-stretched-out two-storey bike parking facility with a caretaker keeping an eye on the sorta-locked bikes; parking in these costs around a fiver a week.

Train travel is by no means cheap, but it's universally used, and it's fast and efficient and simple to navigate. (For example, local stations where I was last staying had birdsongs playing on the platform, louder by the escalators, and different birds for different stations so the blind would know where they were, while the songs were relaxing and pleasant for both sighted and blind. And have you lost your keys or mittens or cap? They'll be hanging on the hooks by the turnstiles.)

So people of all ages cycle to the station and leave their bike there.

Meanwhile, worried about senior moments? Cycling may be the answer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Apr 17 - 01:50 PM

Fun with sledgehammers:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-39489320

Way to go, guys.


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Subject: RE: BS: Living in a car-centric world
From: Iains
Date: 04 Apr 17 - 04:47 PM

I remember working in Dallas nearly 45 years ago and staying within 1/2 mile of my workplace but it was not possible to walk the distance. Too much freeway to cross and no sidewalks. The suburbs, both in Dallas and elsewhere in the western world, were designed for the car, not for pedestrians. In most of the western world a car is regarded as essential, and for many it is. It is all very well to talk about banning cars, but what are the alternatives. We tend to live many miles from our workplace and public transport in most places is inadequate and declining. Walking and cycling are ok for the fit but not for those that are infirm. The writing has been on the wall for the demise of the car for decades, but nothing has been done. Without viable alternatives in place and a rethink as to our present extended mobility, to legislate against cars would be a fiasco. Meanwhile we squander the planets resources and in towns and cities poison ourselves. No politician has the courage to grasp the nettle and initiate the necessary dialogue to promote change. So where do we go from here- apart from the highway to hell?


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