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Old 16 January 2015, 10:48 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,403
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I read a similar article in The Guardian a year or two ago and it surprised me, in some ways but not in others. The USA and the UK are different in this respect - a lot of the USA was built for cars, but most roads in the UK predate cars by centuries (at least, roads to places rather than streets with housing), and a lot of country roads still aren't ideal for cars.

As a walker I'm sometimes very conscious, when walking down country lanes, that they're not very safe for pedestrians at all. But the foot traffic is much closer to the original traffic the road would have been designed for, and it would make more sense to say that the roads aren't safe for cars.

I hadn't remembered that passage from Dickens, but I like it. Dickens was also a great walker, and when I'm planning my walks I often think that in his day, it was easier to walk from town to town as I do. He could just have directly followed the main roads, whereas these days the main roads aren't safe to walk along - the biggest ones, motorways, aren't even legal to walk along - so you have to plan more roundabout routes along little footpaths which are often longer, less convenient, hard to find and overgrown. They're picturesque, but without the cars, country roads are picturesque too. Dickens once walked overnight from London to Rochester on a whim. I've walked from High Wycombe into London during the day, but it would be much harder to do that at night on a whim (and without a map) because it wouldn't be safe to follow the roads, and you'd never find the paths.

If I were in charge, I'd ban cars from country roads, rather than from town centres. You could have bikes, pedestrians, horses, all happily co-existing - the bikes would have to take a bit of care if they were going fast - and leave the cars out, and to my mind it would be a lot better and safer, and better for people's health, than now. I'd designate one road for cars in and out of each town or village, and anybody who needed to drive could use that.
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