The War On Cars

Interesting article - so much of the discourse tends to focus on emissions rather than particles…


Having worked in this area, it’s always been frustrating to see the lag between knowledge and perception and policy. When I accidentally drove into the Glasgow ULEZ recently, I suspected I’d probably be fine because my car is in the £0 road tax bracket. But it’s a Euro 5 diesel, so it’s CO2 emissions might be low but it’s not good at all on NOx, and presumably that human health aspect is why the ULEZ exists in the city centre in the first place. And I was depressingly correct - my car is exempt.

Emissions particulates are the other frustrating one, because all through Euro 6 regulations, diesel vehicles had particulate targets (i.e. soot) but petrol cars didn’t. This is despite the knowledge that petrol engine particulates are smaller (generally) and penetrate deeper into lungs than the chonky diesel ones. But they’re not visible in the same way, so perception and legislation lags…

(I think this is addressed in Euro 7 but I’m not up to date as this isn’t my area any more)

And yeah, brake and tyre particulates have been known to be a big thing for ages, so you’re absolutely right that it’s interesting that it’s not been present in the discourse.


It comes up a lot in planning nerd circles, but not much wider - I would guess because (a) it isn’t as sexy and (b) it fundamentally threatens the EV transition narrative and therefore people continuing to own cars and drive everywhere they want.


Was in an online presentation the other day ostensibly about transport planning and health. Presented by one of the guys who wrote that Carbrain paper that was doing the rounds s few months back. Attended by a mixture of people on both the health side and the engineering side. Interesting stuff. Nice to have a mix of disciplines commenting.

A few on the health side were questioning why it’s taking so long to get things actually in place and built that reflect the unequivocal body of evidence that’s been built up in what is essentially the war on cars. Of course, part of the answer is genuine political will. Simple announcement won’t do. And targets alone aren’t any good. Unless there’s actual international and national legislation in place that has teeth, and regional and local strategies are in place to implement them, plus guidance documents to steer planners and engineers. Very little is likely to happen. It’s only when all that’s in place that there’s a real chance of action. But there’s still a need for adequate funding. Still a need for a (partly generational) mindset shift. Not just with officers in governments and councils, but also among Councillors and other elected representatives, who have one eye on the next election, who hopefully feel emboldened when policy and guidance is in place, but may still require some lobbying and education.

So so much is required to make factually underpinned things happen.

Meanwhile, knobhead journos and wailers can spout absolute pish in national media, and have hoardes of bored angry people disseminate it as of it were gospel, and haughtily demand we prove them wrong.

But we all know this. Anyway…

Here’s a good list of to-the-point single page summaries of various studies in various fields, compiled by the host guy mentioned above:

The predecessor list to that one, by the same guy:



Just over two months ago it was that car driver killed two kids in Wimbledon. Imagine hawking for and running this story.

Didn’t know whether to post this here or in the train thread. A move in tbe right direction anyway. Hopefully it becomes permanent.


The War On Bikes

Excellent use of time and resources, I’m sure. Does this not already exist for the vanishingly rare occasions that it happens?

My understanding is that in some cases charges have previously been pressed under a 19th century law, and there isn’t a modern piece of legislation that covers where deaths are caused by dangerous cycling.

(I have tried to word this as neutrally as possible; I am not looking to get piled on by cyclists here please)


Sort of - the law which gets referred to as the Victorian legislation used to prosecute cyclists is “wanton and furious driving” which was originally passed to deal with horse and carts. That said, cyclists are still covered by various bits of the Road Traffic Act which covers careless and inconsiderate cycling plus bits like why it’s illegal to cycle on the pavement.

The push from the culture wars lot is to introduce an equivalent to motor vehicles which have both a careless and a dangerous driving offence. It’s largely a false equivalency* however for a number of reasons:

  • Many cases that are most probably ‘dangerous’ driving are lowered to ‘careless’ driving due to the difficulty in proving the dangerous threshold. Obviously the sanctions for careless driving are lower.
  • Even for proven dangerous driving offences that result in death, I think the number of drivers that face prison terms is around 50% (I don’t have the exact numbers to hand). For cyclists that cause death through wanton and furious driving the prison sentence rate has been 100% I think over the past couple of decades. Why the disparity? [It’s car brain stuff obviously - a cyclist killing a pedestrian can be weeks of headline news while a motorist killing a pedestrian is just shrug and move on.]
  • Which method of transport carries the higher risk and therefore higher duty of care - driving a car or riding a bike?
  • Are we actually living in an age where we are terrorised by cyclists or is this whole argument actually a big old smokescreen? Particularly post pandemic where driving quality seem to have fallen off a cliff should we be actually focussing on motor vehicle risks (politically unviable obvs)?

Ceavet all of ^that with the fact that I’m not a lawyer…

*Edit: this is the same identikit arguments for why bicycles should have licence plates and why cyclists should pay ‘road tax’ (moving to an emissions tax seems to have slowed this argument not at all.)




Fucking ridiculous some of the arguments being patted out on this

He said this would be a “further attack on vulnerable people.”

Last year, Mr McManus donated £130,000 to Scottish Labour, saying he had been “very impressed with the performance and most of the policies of both Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer.”

Labour councillors in Glasgow were initially supportive of the LEZ, and even criticised the SNP administration for not implementing it sooner.

However, in May, just two days before it was brought in, George Redmond, the leader of the Labour group on the council called for LEZ to be delayed by a year.

All well-trodden territory.

But it’s this other report about the same story which has the best quotes.

Paul McManus, drummer with the rock band Gun, pledged to donate the cash after being inspired to “seize the day” and “use his money for good” after receiving the all-clear following a bowel cancer scare.

Paul said he was inspired by the birth of his granddaughter to help make Scotland “a better, fairer place for all children and young people”.

He explained: "That wee girl really brought home to me what’s important – there are kids just like her all over Scotland who go to bed hungry, cold or don’t even have a bed to go to. That is heartbreaking and it’s something we all need to address. She lit a spark in me – I want her to have everything she dreams of in life, to know she can be anything she wants to be. But the big thing is, I want that for all kids.

“I want those opportunities to be there for every child, not just those born to privileged families. So, I am going to do all I can to try and make the world – and first and foremost Scotland – a better, fairer place for all children and young people. She has made me see what is really important and for that, I can never thank her enough.”

As it happens, I have a sliver of sympathy with the circumstances of the guy at the heart of this, whose accident repair garage is located 500m inside the zone. But the framing of it here is wild and can get in the bin.

Gun were shite.

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Obviously completely in favour of 20mph limit in built up areas as is happening in Wales.

Which has made me think, in England would voluntarily doing 20 in current 30s create more risks than it would reduce (e.g. drivers behind doing risky overtakes)? Maybe something you’d have to assess on a case-by-case basis but I might start getting into the habit when it doesn’t seem to be risky.

Word Up


I am unsure. I would have the same fear as you.

In Wales, I think the legislation is ahead of the design guidelines. Developers and planners might build straight residential roads without raised tables, chicanes, give way pinch points, all of which make 20 mph seem too low. And, rightly, lots of roads will not be retrofitted with these pedestrian-friendly improvements. I think that dissonance is at the heart of the opposition.

I wholeheartedly support it though. I am hopeful the debate is ancient history very soon.


Find it funny that people almost all support the idea that it should be 20mph outside schools but that it’s a terrible idea to make it the default everywhere. Like the kids should be safe immediately outside the school gates but they’re fair game anywhere else.


I think my favourite bullshit argument against the limits is the one about how drivers will spend all their time looking out for cameras and avidly monitoring their speedometers, as if there wasn’ta fairly easy way to avoid having to worry about doing the former and really no discernible reason to do the latter any more than in a 30 or even 70 limit.