A brilliant idea

A simple but fantastic idea was put forward at a conference I was chairing last week. A councillor from Weymouth suggested that there should be a car exclusion zone around schools, forcing people to walk the last 5-10 minutes to school. That would make taking kids to school by car especially for primary schools pointless.
Of course there are lots of practical difficulties. You can just hear the parents saying that their kids will be prey to paedophiles and the like. And sure, the plan may not be workable everywhere. Indeed, It was rather pooh-poohed by Teresa Villiers, the Conservative shadow transport spokeswoman who was on the panel.
But the fundamental idea is simple and brilliant. The further one could keep cars away from school, the more it would make the kids and parents walk or cycle. There will always be objections to such ideas, but the key point is that they form the basis of an alternative, sustainable lifestyle to which politicians should aspire. For example, plans along these lines could be drawn up for every school as a way of stimulating debate and changing people’s perceptions.
That, too, was the purpose of the wonderful Freewheel on which I cycled yesterday. The Embankment along the Thames was closed to all except bikes and there were thousands of cyclists going up and down the road. It was all organised by Transport for London and must have cost a few bob as there were lots of stewards but it is money well spent. But why do they not do simply close the Embankment every sunday in the summer, again as a way of demonstrating how things can be done differently.

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