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Help! The city I live in is only 15 minutes away


When you receive a letter telling you that your car was photographed at a specific time a fortnight ago, turning into a side street you were not supposed to be turning into, it is a nasty moment.

The junction vaguely recalls your memory. The door did not have a sign saying ‘No entry’: there were just a series of words (‘except’, ‘through’, ‘motor vehicles’ etc.) that you couldn’t read in time. This outing will forever be tarnished in your memory as a result of the £65 fine. A protest that ‘my sat-nav told me to do that!’ has the same legal effect as Adam complaining that he ate the fruit from the tree because the woman gave it to him. There is still an enforcement of the punishment.

In the surrounding residential main roads, traffic jams emit exhaust fumes all day long Britain’s new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) teach us: You will inevitably make a small mistake and end up donating money to another borough or county council if you drive outside your own neighbourhood to a place where you don’t know the strange local rules. Many other towns and cities are planning LTNs, including Hereford, Brighton, Bath, St Andrews, Newcastle, Portsmouth, and Leith. Angry locals set fire to road-blocking planters last week in Rochdale.

The flames of those green aggressive planters enthralled me despite my opposition to civil disobedience. In my opinion, the ‘planters and bollards’ method is the most loathsome, since it makes it physically impossible for cars to pass through the blockages, slowing emergency ambulances down, or the ‘cameras and confusing signs’ method helps ambulances but rakes in fines from inadvertent rule-breakers.

Neither method is conducive to living our lives and is imposed on us by money-hungry zealots. These LTN schemes, Clean Air Neighbourhood schemes, and People Friendly Streets schemes will ground us unless we protest about them and implore ministers to stop their roadblocking agenda. These schemes, or Clean Air Neighbourhood schemes, or People Friendly Streets schemes, are mainly being implemented by Labour-controlled councils that love them for the money they raise. Our residential districts will become sad, eerily silent little fortresses bordered by polluted traffic jams and closed down stores, preventing anyone but the young and fit from going out. As a result of a lack of customers, the ’15-minute city’ will not be much use to local small businesses. Clientele who can walk or cycle to a business in 15 minutes cannot sustain most businesses.

As a resident of Hammersmith and Fulham, one of the worst-offending boroughs for using the ‘signs and cameras’ method, I am part of that group. It is no longer possible for anyone outside the borough to turn right over Putney Bridge to reach Wandsworth Road or Wandsworth Bridge. Aside from the main route, all side routes are blocked to outsiders. There are yellow signs directing motorists to turn around and cross Putney Bridge again if they want to reach Wandsworth.

Wandsworth Bridge Road has lost twenty businesses since the pandemic, and the new outsider-repelling scheme is making recovery even harder. After the scheme was implemented in February, Randalls, a long-established local butcher, lost 40 percent of its income. Due to the bad traffic and the arcane rules, many of its customers from three neighboring boroughs (all under a mile away) have given up coming. From making a healthy profit to losing £10,000 per month, Hally’s, a local café that employs 14 staff, has gone from making a profit to losing money.

People who are obsessed with cycling and car-haters may suggest taking the Tube or bike to another borough. The Underground and cycling are both things I enjoy as much as anyone else, and I care about the environment. However, I am independent and fit. How about those over the age of 65? On a rainy morning, what is a mother to do when she has three children under five that need to get to school? How would you feel if you were a delivery driver stuck in gridlock on the main road under time pressure? The public transportation system in my borough has gotten worse, not better.

You can bet they’ll come up with the data they want, stating that bus journeys are taking less time than they used to and air quality is improving, while schemes like these are ‘under consultation’. In Sleepless in Seattle, Jonah says, when asked how he knew his father had insomnia, “I live here, Dad.”. The neighborhood’s main roads are clogged with traffic belching exhaust fumes all day.

For the misery and frustration inflicted around the edges, Britain’s traffic-free residential enclaves aren’t worth it. One Dulwich’s co-founder Richard Aldwinckle told me that these schemes cause the three Ds: displace traffic on boundary roads, divide communities, and discriminate against the elderly and disabled. It is against these schemes that Dulwich residents are protesting against Southwark Borough Council’s road closure schemes. Having once been a friendly and approachable neighbourhood, Dulwich has, like Fulham, become so difficult to get into that thousands don’t bother trying, resulting in businesses closing. A junction has been closed, effectively separating East and West Dulwich.

All traffic is gradually being pushed into a few clogged arteries through the new Corridor Britain. There is too much risk involved in turning into a side street to park on such a corridor if you see a nice-looking butcher, greengrocer, or café. Why would you do that once you’ve received your first fine?

As far as councils are concerned, this is exactly what they want. There is a new class of pariah: passers-through. Three-quarters of an hour has been added to once ten-minute journeys. Councils like it when traffic gets worse, hoping we will eventually stop driving. There are, however, some people who need their cars. They will also become old, infirm, lonely and confined to their homes one day.

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