Showing the Way to Go on Transport
In July 2004, the Government will reveal the outcomes of its Ten Year Transport Plan Review, which will determine priorities on transport spending up to 2016. But will sustainable transport - walking, cycling and public transport - be high on the agenda?
There will be no formal public consultation as part of the Transport Plan review, so it's vital that as many people as possible tell the government to spend its transport money in a way that benefits communities and the environment rather than squandering it on yet more bypasses and motorway widening schemes.
The Way to Go campaign is a joint initiative of over twenty-five environmental and social justice organisations including Friends of the Earth, Transport 2000, and the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), as well as many other organisations which you might not immediately associate with transport campaigning, such as Age Concern, RNIB, The Women's Institute, and trade unions such as Unison.
On Wednesday 17th March, Birmingham Friends of the Earth campaigners, some of us thinly disguised as bus conductors and lollipop ladies took, to the street (see pic right) to muster support for the Way to Go campaign, asking passers by to send Way to Go postcards to their MPs. Our very own Way to Go signpost was also in attendance, highlighting some of the more important measures, and pointing the Government in the right direction. Here's the full list of measures being promoted by the campaign:
At times we were overwhelmed by the interest shown by passers-by as they flocked to our stall to sign the postcards. They were only too glad to be able to tell their MPs what they wanted to see transport money spent on: better bus services better train services, safer and more pleasant cycling and walking routes and not on more road widening and bypass schemes. As people filled out their cards it was interesting to hear them vent their own views on transport issues, and it soon became clear that creating better cycling facilities and improving bus services headed the list of concerns.
On the same day as our action, Chancellor Gordon Brown underwhelmed everyone with a Budget as disappointing as it was predictable from an environmental point of view. There was little to encourage less environmentally damaging patterns of transport use. Motorists were let off lightly and the opportunity for taxing the drivers of more fuel-thirsty vehicles was missed. And there was nothing in there which would encourage more people to use public transport or to walk or cycle their journeys.
Most worrying of all was the announcement that the July Spending Review would confirm real growth in transport spending, with a roads programme that would 'not be left unfinished' as in the past. A timely and ominous reminder, if any were needed, that we really do need to tell the Government the 'Way to Go' (and possibly where to get off - Ed) with its transport policy.
For more information on the campaign and ways to get involved, visit the Way to Go coalition's website www.waytogo.org.uk.
Send a Way to Go postcard to your MP. Call Martin or James at the Warehouse on 0121 632 6909 and we'll send you some. If you would any more postcards for your friends and family please let us know as we've got plenty here!
Write to your MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA to sign Early Day Motion 527 which supports aims of the Way to Go campaign.