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Letter: The Government Needs to Take the Problems Caused by Cars Seriously

Published on: 5 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 5 Apr, 2021

From: Jeremy Varns

In response to: We Need Less Car Dependency, Not More Road Capacity

Roy Fiander asks in his earlier comment on the Guildford Dragon NEWS: “Is Mr Varns a car driver? If so, is he not a pot calling the kettle black?”

Well, no, I am not.

I witnessed the devastating effect of car dependency when moving to uni in Winchester 20 years ago. Students were strongly discouraged to bring a car and I managed to walk everywhere or use public transport when working (field-based job which required covering an area from Southampton – Portsmouth).

I made the decision at this point that I would, for as long as possible, not drive and be part of a system which I felt was undermining society and the environment. It should be possible to live in an urban area without a car and I still live by this principle now (in Guildford).

Yes, at times it’s inconvenient but with better public transport and active travel schemes, it can become a reality for more people.

If you think about it, cars dominate just about every aspect of our lives whether we are a driver or not. The government has got to start taking this seriously. We also know that as well as the significant health impacts of breathing toxic air, car usage is closely linked to obesity which costs the NHS (and therefore taxpayers) billions every year.

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test One Response to Letter: The Government Needs to Take the Problems Caused by Cars Seriously

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    April 5, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    It is all very well if you can get to where you want using public transport but this is not the case for many.

    If you do not live near a bus stop or the train station is a bit too far to walk and you don’t feel confident enough to ride a bike in traffic, a safe node of transport would be in a car.

    Efficient public transport in cities like London is a whole lot different from towns like Guildford and for the surrounding rural and semi-rural areas. Also out of hours and weekend services are too infrequent or they shut down too early and therefore unsuitable for general use. Fares need to be affordable to attract more use of public transport but this is not the case.

    We value our freedom and value our time and we do not wish to wait around for late buses or cancellation of services for whatever reason. Unless more frequent services run over longer hours and fares are heavily subsidised by either local or central government, I do not believe people will switch to public transport for the greater good.

    As for pollution, hopefully, more electric and hydrogen vehicles would help to reduce the emission of noxious gases.

    Guildford is a gap town and all traffic has to pass through it. Safer walking and cycle routes could not be created, as roads are generally narrow. The existing road network in and around Guildford needs to be redesigned wherever possible to create safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists. So I say we need to create more road capacity by building new infrastructure and use innovative designs to improve and expand existing road space for all users.

    Housing needs have reduced a bit following Brexit but population will increase and more housing will be needed. Traffic would increase but at a reduced rate because of the Pandemic as many are now working from home and would continue to do so.

    New homes should not be built unless the infrastructure needed is also built at the same time. Unfortunately, the A3 widening has been shelved for the fourth time. Therefore Blackwell/Gosden Farm development needs to be scaled down and stand-alone A3 schemes may permit modest numbers to be built. Highways England needs to explore such possibilities.

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