The Royal Commission on Pollution: Car use is a 'temptation'

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The Independent Online
Sarah and Michael Finch, from Finsbury Park in north London, run a 15- year-old Volkswagen Golf, which they use as little as possible to limit environmental damage. They bought the car three months ago for pounds 250 when Ms Finch had twins, writes Danny Penman.

'When I was pregnant I watched other women struggling on to buses and tubes with a baby, buggy and carrying bags so we decided to buy a car. We really only use it to take the babies to the hospital and to visit people who live in places tricky to reach by public transport. We also go on a weekly shopping trip to the local supermarket,' said Ms Finch.

On average, they drive 10 miles per week, using about pounds 1 worth of unleaded petrol. Mr Finch commutes to work by Tube and bus. Ms Finch cycles three miles to work in the information department of the campaign group Friends of the Earth. The Finches are worried about using the car more. Ms Finch said: 'Once you've got the car there's a real temptation to use it and I think when the winter really comes and it starts to get cold and wet it's going to be a lot less pleasant to walk to the local shops. It's likely that we'll start to use it more. But we've made a very definite decision not to use it unless we have to.

'I hope we will continue to cycle and use public transport when that's a realistic alternative . . . The car is responsible for so many environmental ills.' She said she did not blame individual drivers: 'I think it's the fault of the Government for developing the kind of culture where everyone has to drive. There should be a lot more investment in public transport and cycling facilities and also developing shops near to where people live.

'The whole culture of the country is geared towards people driving vast mileages. There needs to be a radical rethinking of transport policy and town planning. I think there's a real anti-car feeling, and it's not just in the environmental groups.'