Motor Mania

Whenever I mention this cartoon here in the UK, no one knows what I’m talking about, so I thought I’d post it here.  It’s a wonderful piss-take of drivers, one that you would certainly never see these days from the dumbo’d down corporate, plastic Disney.

The obvious Mr. Walker/ Mr. Wheeler, Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde connection exposes a truth about the motorcar and society- perhaps one we are not so comfortable with now that we have allowed the car to dominate practically every aspect of modern life.  It’s this psychological split between the driver and walker- the lead-footed petrol addict and the resident who has to keep a close eye on small children and pets.   And of course they are often the same person.

I argue that the mistake politicians have made in trying to bring about a sustainable transport system is that they speak to the driver, not the resident.   I mean, if you wanted to close Prince St. bridge for example, would you try to win the support of Mr. Walker or Mr. Wheeler?

In 1948 J. S. Dean, the chairman of the Pedestrians Association (now Living Streets), wrote these words:

“…there is an extraordinary gulf in the motoring mind between intention and action.   What are we to do with these people and their split minds?  As they kill and maim pedestrians they chatter: ‘We are all pedestrians.'”

There are lots of examples of this fascinating split personality syndrome in our modern transport system.   What are some other examples people can cite?


7 responses to “Motor Mania

  1. Excellent cartoon and a well written piece. I agree that it is important to remember that we’re all the same people.

    Cyclists need to remember this too, as if you want to increase the rate of cycling, drivers are the people you are trying to convert. There is no point in telling drivers that it’s just fine to cycle in conditions where they know that they cause danger to cyclists.

    An example of the mentality is the exclusion of cyclists from the pedestrianized centre of Cambridge. This was done primarily to suit “pedestrians” who had driven into the city. It causes cyclists who are made to take a detour on less pleasant / more dangerous roads more danger and inconvenience than it saves motorists strolling through the city.

    After many years of campaigning, the ban has only been partially lifted.

  2. We have the same problem in Swindon – a town centre that is a completely no go area for cyclists. Are there good examples of towns and cities in the UK where the centres are ‘permeable’ to cyclists? I’d love to use these examples in discussions with the Borough Council. Currently, they just don’t seem to see what’s wrong with cycle routes that end at the town centre with that dreaded sign ‘Cyclists Dismount’.

  3. Andy: there are plenty of examples, Gloucester being one of them which has a semi-permeable ‘pedestrianised’ central area which cyclists are allowed to use during the peak commuter hours. This has been running as a trail for over 18 months now and seems to work quite well – when the shops are at their quietest, and the pedestrian area has only a few pedestrians moving through it cyclists have free raom to make cross city movements. Bristol too has a completely shared space ethos where rather than ‘pedestrianised’ areas, they are ‘traffic-free’ a much more acceptable term in my book which reduces peoples’ perceptions over ownership of space…

  4. But why only peak commuter hours ? Why not the whole time ? By contrast, the centre of Assen where we no live is shown in before and after photos here:

    It’s really a different idea. There are still “roads”, but mostly these are for bikes and not for cars.

  5. A good point to remember. I guess that’s why we accept the degradation of our lives, pollution of our cities and poisioning of our children and our world- because the people being poisoned are doing the poisoning.

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