Letter: Car policies should be local

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The Independent Online
I FULLY endorse last week's editorial ('Last gasp for the car') in which you call for a change of attitude towards the car. But your suggestion that the control of cars should be government policy is unlikely to solve the problems of increasing car ownership.

We are a car-dependent culture, so any proposal to control car use is met with cynicism and hostility. Hertfordshire County Council has recognised that persuasion and encouragement are more effective than control.

For almost a year we have been promoting our TravelWise campaign throughout the county. It is designed to change the motorist's attitude to the car and to encourage alternatives such as cycling, public transport and car-sharing.

The County Council is providing more facilities such as cycleways, improving pavements and increasing its funding for passenger transport services. Other County Councils are beginning to see the wisdom in TravelWise. Two have adopted it and others are set to follow. TravelWise is not anti-car, but questions how we use the car. After all, 50 per cent of car journeys are less than two miles, and healthy, convenient alternatives are suggested.

If the Government is not going to show a lead, it must at least recognise its responsibility to support local authorities through funding and planning guidance. Beating motorists into submission is not the answer to pollution, congestion and environmental damage. Providing well-resourced and properly integrated alternatives offer a far greater chance.

Nigel G Knott

Director of Transportation

Hertfordshire County Council