Crace goes rogue

28th August 2020

Low-Traffic Neighbourhood
Low Traffic Neighbourhood, by Sam Saunders, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Guardian sketch writer John Crace - normally an intelligent and funny human being - has gone rogue with a rant against safe bike lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. All because he got stuck in a traffic jam going to the tip!

Rat runs

He actually complained that his local rat runs in Wandsworth have been blocked off, so he had to use the main road.

Do I have to point out the obvious? It might be convenient for you to drive through streets where other people live, but it's not convenient for them. Through traffic causes danger, noise and pollution. The danger stops children playing in the streets; the pollution damages children's lungs, and may even affect their intelligence.

Pro-car, anti-everything else people often seem to see themselves as Crusaders for Justice. I've got news for them: they're no modern-day Mahatma Ghandis, they are just selfish people.

'Everyone agrees with me'

Next there was an evidence-free assertion that everyone agrees with John Crace.

"I somehow must have missed the email alert...but those that did engage tell me that the response was near enough 100% against the proposals."

Yet, strangely enough 74% of people say that we need to use our cars less. And in the Harrogate Congestion Survey, 77% wanted better walking and cycling routes.

Harrogate Congestion Survey result

There are people who believe they have a divine right to drive where and when they want, and everyone else should GET OUT OF THE WAY, but:

In favour of greener travel in theory but not in practice

"The idea behind the scheme was sound enough: to promote greener travel by getting more people to use bicycles and to walk where possible."

So Crace does understand, it's just that his support of green travel doesn't survive an encounter with a traffic jam. It took him ages to get to the tip and back, apparently. I'd point out:

  1. It's not the first time in the history of the world that there's been a traffic jam
  2. When looking for something to blame, he might target the vehicles that are actually causing the congestion - including his own
  3. If you give all the space to cars, it won't be safe to cycle - which is what we all want people to do
  4. If you give more space to cars, the volume of traffic will expand to fill it - a phenomenon called 'induced demand'
  5. John might plan his journey better next time, to avoid a really busy time
  6. Wandsworth should arrange collection of garden waste in future, to reduce the number of trips by private car - which aren't really practical in a densely-populated area of London anyway