Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Fuel prices and cycling

Fuel prices
Whenever the Government increases taxes on fuel there are huge protests from groups like 'FairFuelUK', the RAC, road haulage companies, car drivers and so on. However, environmentally the increases are a good thing. What else would seriously make people consider other forms of transport, or how far they travel to work? What else would discourage people from commuting large distances or making unnecessary journeys? There is over-use of cars everywhere, often for short distances that could easily be walked. Watch the roads and see how many journeys are one person per car. We’ve already seen wars over the availability of fuel (more here) and that is only going to get worse. Society needs to change radically, in many ways, and fuel increases are probably only a fraction of the shock that we’ll have to face if we’re not to screw up royally. Most of the organisations supporting campaigns to lower fuel tax are guilty of promoting car use and road building, and of campaigning against sustainable alternatives, which is part of the reason we’re facing such a screwed future. Their support of a campaign is a warning sign. Greater restrictions on private car ownership are one of the unpopular things we must face in the future.

The way the world is currently set up, it is often  cheaper to hire a car, drive a distance to an airport, and fly across UK than to make the whole journey by train. We've got our priorities wrong. The only way to change it is to charge tax according to the environmental damage. At present there isn't even a tax on fuel for air travel, thanks to extensive lobbying from the air industry. There should be air tax fuel, with the money used to subsidise and modernise rail travel and other greener options. Only then will we see a shift towards a sustainable future.

Maybe we should also rethink the privatisation/nationalisation of rail, since the service and costs are worse since our rail network was privatised and became profit driven (the priority in any privatised industry is stakeholder profit instead of customer and public service).

Cycling survey
Today, a cross-party Parliamentary inquiry will open to investigate ways of encouraging more people to cycle

The panel of ten MPs has agreed to incorporate public views into this study. You can complete a short questionnaire for use in the inquiry here.

In four weeks the results will be passed on to the Parliamentary team as it calls for written submissions of evidence. The panel's report, which will be published in early 2013, should promote cycling as a safe, viable means of transport, and ideally speed the transformation of the urban environment so that people can cycle happily, healthily and safely.

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