So says Bruno Waterfield:
The European Commission on Monday unveiled a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050.
The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.
Top of the EU’s list to cut climate change emissions is a target of “zero” for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU’s future cities.
Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.
“That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres,” he said. “Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour.”
A bunch of people who think that’s mad respond by saying that that’s mad. Maybe it is, but how will the anti-maddists stop it? That argument hasn’t worked all the times it’s been tried before.
The trouble with the “that’s mad” argument is that it doesn’t lay a finger on the “yes but wouldn’t it be nice?” argument. Opponents of the EU look like grumpy believers in surrendering to “reality”. The EU, meanwhile, comes across as boldly changing mere “reality” to something nicer. So, the real argument is: would this actually be nicer?
My argument against might go something like this: it sounds nice, but it would drain all the life out of cities and turn them into museums, rather as the centre of Paris already has been turned into a museum, in that case by not allowing any new buildings other than Presidential follies like the glass pyramid thingy or the Pompidou Centre. London, in contrast, is a living, growing place, all over.
But then again, although the Kallas plan would drain much of the life out of London that is now there, life of other sorts would move in. It might indeed be quite nice. For some, like tourists and tourist crap shop owners, street marketeers, electric motor makers, paving stone makers, road demolishers, etc. etc.
I look forward to comments from fellow TBloggers explaining why this really is a mad plan.