Word of mouth

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The Independent Online
With a cry of "Reclaim the Streets", surprise attacks to shut traffic out of parts of London are the latest ploy in the anti-roads campaign. The word on the street is that the car, that post-war icon of personal liberty, the passport out of the mean streets of the asphalt jungle, is in the fast lane to Shit Street.

Soon cruising Main Street in your wheels will be as uncool as wearing mink, and laying rubber on the Strip or the Deuce (42nd Street) will send your street cred crashing down the boulevard of broken dreams. Soon no one will watch road movies or listen to Bruce Springsteen.

The ad men of Madison Avenue are running out of road: Wall Street's in a flap and Fleet Street's barking up a blind alley, as from Queer Street to Nob Hill, from Funky Broadway to the Street of Shame, the man in the street is saying: "Park that car." Naturally the politicians are pretty middle-of-the-road on this one, at least when they're not trying to work both sides of the street, but from the backstreets to the burbs, the guttersnipes to the Sloane rangers, all streetwise people want to get the car off the old main drag.

Bad news for kerb crawlers, but pavement artists would get a boost and it shouldn't hurt the streetwalking trade. We might even see the return of the boulevardier and how much nicer the evening paseo in Seville or passeggiata in Rome would be without cars, or a stroll up Broadway, the Great White Way as it used to be, past Tin Pan Alley and, a few blocks further on, Panic Beach, the strip of pavement where performers waited to be called for vaudeville auditions. Even with one foot in the gutter, wouldn't that be right up your alley?

The car was going to put us all on Easy Street but it's left us choking on the road to nowhere instead of the sunny side of the street. We're at a crossroads now where we can either leave the road to ruin at Spaghetti Junction or carry on down a dead-end street. It seems people have already had their fill of running on empty and they're not interested in staying indoors chasing their tail down the information super-highway. They'd rather take a quiet stroll down Quality Street any day.