Eco-Warriors Use COVID As Excuse To Drive Cars Off The Road
Roads narrowed so that pavements can be widened. Streets reduced from two lanes to one. Extra cycle lanes.
Town-centre parking spaces suspended. Major diversions. Under the guise of protecting us from COVID, councils all across the country have introduced a host of tough restrictions on motorists.
Of course, everything necessary must be done to prevent the spread of coronavirus but many believe this is being done as an excuse to punish drivers as part of a wider campaign against car use.
What’s more, these measures are killing trade on high streets at a time when the economy is in desperate need of all the help it can get.
Typical is what is happening in Bristol, where van driver Steve Weeks is at his wits’ end.
He says: ‘These measures are adding about 20 minutes per hour to every journey. Which means I’m working longer for less. It’s crazy.’ I spoke to Steve as he sat stuck in traffic at a junction on Lewins Mead, one of the main routes through the city.
‘It was 3 pm on Wednesday when traffic would usually be light, but a tailback snaked behind and ahead of Steve for more than a mile.
‘On August 3, the council reduced the space for powered vehicles on Lewins Mead from two lanes to one.
‘Since then, the nearside lane has become a thoroughfare for bicycles. Incidentally, while at the junction for 30 minutes, I saw only one cyclist use the bike lane.’
Narrowing roads to create super-wide bike lanes isn’t the only measure Bristol has introduced.
On-street parking has been suspended in several locations, roads have been closed and some key left and right turns are about to be banned.
One result is that cars and vans have effectively been banned from the road into the city center from the main railway station, Temple Meads – forcing drivers to use a long, circuitous alternative.
The impact on businesses has been devastating, but more road closures – another 12, the city council warns – are imminent.
The Government is spending £225 million on similar measures across the country, most notably in London, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham, York, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Derby, and Cardiff.
There has been scant public consultation but everywhere the justification is the same: COVID offers an ideal opportunity to provide a green stimulus to economic recovery, encourage people out of their cars and, in the process, to get fit and lose weight to protect them against the virus.
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