What we see and what we don't

18th February 2020

Parked bike
Parked bike, residential street in Harrogate

I remember my neighbour's reaction to a bike regularly locked to a lamppost near where we live. He was grumbling about it, and considering reporting it to the council.

I should have said, 'If you report the bike, you'll also have to report the 250 cars parked on our street.'

The main difference is that the bike was taking up no useful space, whereas the cars (which are on both sides) eat up 3.5-4m of the width of the road. As people buy ever more enormous cars, that will increase.

Cars have brought us some very beneficial benefits, and some highly disadvantageous disadvantages. We need to maximise the benefits, but make sure cars don't continue to ruin our quality of life, as they dominate the places where we live, work and shop.

We have to stop thinking of cars as always having existed (they are a recent invention), as being a permanent feature of our landscape (they're not), and of it being impossible to make any change to the dominance of motor vehicles (it is possible).

The first step will be to notice all the cars around us, rather than being blind to them and only seeing a single bicycle.