Is car ownership another pandemic?

Will Sanderson contributes this blog from Shipley and Saltaire Living Streets

Reports of another pandemic are starting to buzz on the news wires. It is more insidious than the one we’ve just lived through, and we’re already losing the race to find a solution. As it travels invisibly through the air causing respiratory disease and excess deaths, people get scared. Tragically, this one also kills kids. Social interactions are curtailed, communities feel the strain, mental health suffers. The poorest are hit hardest, but we all start to feel powerless and disenfranchised. The next pandemic is car-owner virus.

Car dominance, and the entitlement it engenders in drivers, has a lot to answer for: contributing to climate change, polluting the air we breathe, making conversation in the street difficult and unpleasant, isolating the elderly and disabled, disturbing our sleep, contributing to roadside litter, and resulting directly in avoidable injury and deaths.

According to the Council’s own reports, cars are the biggest contributor to air pollution in Bradford, causing 1 in 20 early deaths in the region, and costing local NHS Trusts around £3million per year. Around 200 people are killed or seriously injured on Bradford’s roads every year. And still, millions of pounds are being spent adding capacity to the road network, while too little is done to provide the infrastructure and incentives for alternative modes of transport. This is why 40% of journeys under 2 miles are currently made by car. Now is the time to enable and encourage active travel: a simple lifestyle change that has such enormous health and social benefits.

Shipley & Saltaire Living Streets, in support of the excellent campaigning done by the Bradford Shipley Travel Alliance, Clean Air Bradford, and Friends of the Earth, are calling for an end to car-centric thinking in planning and transport (avoid), more joined-up cycling and walking routes (shift), and measures to prevent antisocial driving, parking and rat-running (improve). We need your help! Commit to leaving the car at home whenever possible, or get in touch to join our team. We especially need some help from parents of primary-aged children (to start a walking/cycling bus and play streets), young adults with a flair for social media (to run our accounts), and artistic folk (to do some tactical urbanism).

We have a choice, now, between a cleaner future for people, places and our planet, or continuing with activities which damage our health and environment. Walk with us.

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