My New Hero, Boris Johnson

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Hail the heroic parents who let their children cycle to school

The couple who have shown faith in their children – and London’s streets – should be applauded, not hounded, says Boris Johnson.

Every so often I find a new hero. I read in the papers of some individual who is managing to swim against the glutinous tide of political correctness.

In this age of air-bagged, mollycoddled, infantilised over-regulation it can make my spirits soar to discover that out there in the maquis of modern Britain there is still some freedom fighter who is putting up resistance against the encroachments of the state; and when I read of their struggle I find myself wanting to stand on my chair and cheer, or perhaps to strike a City Hall medal in their honour.

Read the article

Best of all, his conclusion demonstrates an understanding of the SOCIAL STRUCTURES of a healthy community.

Their vision of urban life is profoundly attractive – a city so well policed, and with so strong a sense of community, that children can walk or cycle on their own to school. Instead of hounding the Schonrocks we should be doing everything we can to make their dream come true – in every part of the city.

Imagine what our communities would be like if all elected officials had the political courage to take a stand against stupid and damaging memes, rather than simply pandering to popular ignorance.

4 replies
  1. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    at the time of my reading of the article, there were 97 responses. Sadly, the number of bonehead comments were far greater than the educated ones.

    “oh, it’s so dangerous to be out on public roadways”

    When one considers that more kids (and adults) out on bikes on the roads means more eyes on everyone, and safer streets for it. “Stranger danger” and traffic concerns are all covered if there are more human beans in the first place, not steel boxes with soul-less bodies inside.

    His conclusion is spot-on!

  2. Eric
    Eric says:

    Boris Johnson ended the war on the auto in favor of common sense. After he became mayor, he retained some things, such as the congestion tolls, but he ended the “hierarchical approach” to transportation.

    Here is a quote:
    “It is fashionable to insist that there must be a hierarchy of transport modes, or that some must be always morally superior to others. This view is unhelpful and misleading. The motor car is not intrinsically evil. Of all the technological breakthroughs of the 20th century, the car did more to democratize the world, and to emancipate the female sex, than almost anything else. Our job is not to punish the motorist, by treating every car journey as a sinful act — that’s why I scrapped the vindictive £25 (US $50) congestion charge for larger cars… Our ambition is to help people out of their cars by persuasion, not persecution.”

    Johnson, himself a cyclist, remained committed to improving the city’s mass transit system as well, but he insisted on realistic proposals that reflect the current economic reality.”

    What I find interesting is that he is not in favor of widening streets to make more room for the traffic and he is trying to make London a more livable city which includes the automobile.

    • John Schubert,
      John Schubert, says:

      It’s usually impossible to widen streets in an already-built-up city without huge collateral damage. Where does the width come from? Buildings you buy and tear down? Front yards you buy and destroy? Shade trees you destroy?
      The town nearest my home, Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, is currently widening the highway through town. They scraped at front yards and parking lots on the west side of the highway to do so. Now, the building setbacks are. . . minimal. On the East side, they couldn’t take any more land without tearing down many homes — so they didn’t.
      OK, next question: what are the benefits of widening a street? Many people make the assumption that the street is for motor traffic, and that bicyclists are interlopers, without full status. If you discard that assumption, you come around to the notion that the street is for everyone. Every street is a bicycle facility. What widening does is provide a more convenient motorist passing facility. So the question becomes, how much does society want that convenient motorist passing facility; how much does it cost; and what are the consequences of providing it?
      When a bicyclist takes a lane, motor traffic must wait until it’s safe to pass. Given the slow speeds of city traffic, this seldom causes an actual delay. Given the more space-efficient use of the road by bicyclists (six to eight times that of motorists, according to traffic counts conducted during the 1980 New York City transit strike), what you see is that overall, motorists delay other motorists.
      Certainly, there are places where it makes sense to facilitate plenty of safe motorist overtaking. There are other places where it makes more sense to maintain the road as a shared-use facility, permitting motor traffic to overtake and pass when safe. Societal acceptance of this is critical to creating a civil community for all road users.

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