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A Confession On Transport

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Thundery wintry showers

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As a non-driver who studies climate science and takes a strong interest in environmentalism, rather contrarily I'm also a bit of a petrolhead.

I like motor racing (especially Formula One), have been quad biking in the past, enjoy motor racing games on the computer, and like "sporty" style cars (the ones with rapid acceleration/brakes, rapid cornering and stiff suspensions to make for a ride more akin to being on a rollercoaster instead of gliding along polished glass). I am also a big fan of Top Gear, which is probably my favourite TV program of all at the moment.

However I also condemn the boy racers, the mindless idiots who drive recklessly (whether for pleasure or otherwise) without regard for safety- of which there are many on the roads, particularly prominent in 17-19 year old macho males. This ties in with my usual recommendation of clamping down on the idiots first and only then thinking of casting the net wider- though it's my usual stance on these kinds of issues anyway.

As well as being into cars, I also like buses and trains when they're reliable, and I like cycling when there is a decent segregated network available. Cycling is also good for exercise, and getting on a bus or train can be very relaxing. So ideally I would like those to be improved. My favourite example of a good transport system is that of Strasbourg.

It strikes me that current orthodox transport policies address both issues with a simple and neat solution: clamp down on everyone to legislate for the idiots and also deter car use, with road humps, lower and more absolutely enforced speed limits etc. However I argue that they are simple neat and wrong. They will improve safety but at much larger cost to responsible people than is necessary, and they will achieve a transport equilibrium at a much lower level than is necessary. Many for instance don't want a segragated cycle network because it won't deter car use whereas increasing their rights on the roads will- not good news for me as a prospective cyclist!

I tend to come in for a lot of stick for my views on transport- like with climate change I have beliefs that incorporate views from both sides of the debate and in between, so it is easy to be lumped together with one side or the other. But in the case of transport it should be easy to see why I have these kinds of contrary views- because I come from a rare background of being an environmentalist, a non-driver, a former bicycle lover, a bus/train lover and a car lover.
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[quote]It strikes me that current orthodox transport policies address both issues with a simple and neat solution: clamp down on everyone to legislate for the idiots and also deter car use, with road humps, lower and more absolutely enforced speed limits etc. However I argue that they are simple neat and wrong. They will improve safety but at much larger cost to responsible people than is necessary, and they will achieve a transport equilibrium at a much lower level than is necessary. Many for instance don't want a segragated cycle network because it won't deter car use whereas increasing their rights on the roads will- not good news for me as a prospective cyclist![/quote]

As always Ian, it's about education. Where I feel the system goes wrong, especially for the younger end, is the lack of an aptitude test. We all know that some drivers should never be allowed a license and I think this would be one way of weeding out the chaff from the wheat. It wouldn't prevent anyone from having a driving license in the long run but would alert them as to what areas need to be worked on in given situations and give someone a chance to work on that before they get a license to kill....

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Aye, I think you're probably right there.

With regards the test system it seems people generally learn how to drive in order to pass the test. In the meantime many people who are learning to drive feel they know better than established drivers (usually because the latter have got into "bad habits", meaning anything that deviates from how you're taught to drive in order to pass the test). Once they pass, many feel under-prepared for life on the roads, and also many feel that the rules on driving style are too stringent and some rebel by going free-for-all (this might contribute to the numbers of reckless 18 year olds). As a non-driver my knowledge of how the system works has some limitations, but these observations of its effects crop up quite consistently.

My impression is that there's too much focus on testing driving style rather than aptitude. I remember reading a few articles suggesting more emphasis on training rather than error based testing which might be worth looking at, although I admit to not being knowledgeable enough on that to justify forming a strong view.

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