Over-reliance on cars will “replace one health crisis with another”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan this week warned that over-reliance on cars for short journeys ‘will replace one public health crisis with another – caused by filthy air and gridlocked roads’.

His prediction followed news that over one third of car journeys in London could be walked in 25 minutes and that congestion associated with those trips costs the city over £5 billion per year.

Sadiq Khan explained: “The cost to both Londoners and the capital cannot be underestimated, with days wasted stuck in traffic, billions lost to the economy and increased road danger and health impacts. Most traffic is caused simply by there being too great a demand for limited street space, meaning the only long-term solution can be to significantly reduce car use in favour of greener means of travel.”

Traffic congestion the associated pollution and road danger is a national problem; Roads in London, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Leicester and Liverpool are now as busy as they were in pre-pandemic 2019. In other words, it’s back to business as usual; Britain’s polluted air causes 40,000 early deaths a year, with almost one in four of those occurring in London. Globally, air pollution kills over 4 million. Year in. Year out.

traffic jam

The pandemic offered a glimpse of a greener alternative. New York legalised pedelecs up to 20 mph, e-bikes up to 25 mph and electric kick scooters up to 15 mph. The Big Apple has had a fractious relationship with electric two-wheelers over recent years, but New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that cars were paralysing his city and that motoring had to be discouraged, saying: “We need an alternative to automobiles driving in New York City. The volume is paralysing. The cost is prohibitive. It is environmentally destructive.”

Meanwhile here in Britain, local authorities adopted a policy of tactical urbanism. It represented a small step, but traffic levels plummeted. Alongside tranquil streets, air pollution fell to its lowest level in 20 years. However, a number of these schemes across London and beyond are at risk following protests from a vocal minority. It’s vital that those who wish to see quality of life prioritised over motoring make a their views known. After all, the health of us all is at stake.

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance (covers cargo bikes), breakdown cover  and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.

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