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We need solutions to our car addiction right now says West Norfolk writer

Washed Up column, by Sarah Juggins (Award-winning author of The History Makers & Under An Orange Sky)

It was interesting to read that the presentation by the borough council into transport solutions in Lynn had not really addressed the need to get people out of their cars.

A letter in the Lynn News from Jenny Walker spoke about the need to introduce more forward-thinking strategies to help address environmental and health issues.

I would back Jenny up 100 per cent. We need to come up with innovative plans to lessen the reliance on individual cars and increase use of public transport and Shanks’s pony.

Washed Up, by Sarah Juggins; Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
Washed Up, by Sarah Juggins; Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

Many people would like the chance to use their car less. Crippling fuel prices and frustratingly long queues into towns and cities are just two reasons for this.

There is also the growing realisation that we will not have a liveable planet in a few years if we do not all make a cohesive attempt to change things rapidly.

Three solutions spring to mind, all inspired by recent experiences elsewhere. In Copenhagen in the 1960s the government made a pledge to make the city a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly place.

Half-a-century later and the city has clean air, a population for whom cycling is the default travel method and streets where it is safe to walk without being mown down if you step off the pavement. There is also mutual respect between cyclists and motorists.

The second solution was the ‘last mile’ strategy that I saw being trialled in Milton Keynes. Here, people visiting the town, either for work, shopping or leisure, would drive or take the bus or train to a parking space outside the urban area.

Electric pods, carrying one to four people, summoned via an app, would then take them to wherever they wanted to go within the town. Streets are clear of traffic and the place just felt safer and cleaner.

The third solution is electric car clubs. You hire a car for the time you need it, dropping it at one of a number of pick-up/drop-off points.

All three solutions rely on two things. The first is a forward-thinking strategy that is prepared to spend money on the infrastructure so people can change their behaviour. The second is to put an end to our 150-year love affair with the car.

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