The latest attack on the use of motor vehicles is the promotion of the concept of the “15-Minute City”. This is a concept where most daily necessities can be accomplished by either walking or cycling from residents’ homes. Irrespective of the practicality of it, such a scheme can be enforced by splitting a city into neighbourhoods and banning vehicles from driving from one zone into another.
The cities of Oxford and Bath have launched proposals for such schemes.
Oxfordshire County Council, which is run by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, wants to divide the city of Oxford into six districts. In these districts, it is suggested that most household essentials will be accessible by a quarter-of-an-hour walk or bike ride, and so residents will have no need for a car. The council plans to cut car use and traffic congestion by placing strict rules on car journeys. Under the proposals, if residents drive outside of their designated district more than 100 days per year they could be fined £70. Labour councillor Duncan Enright, cabinet member for travel and development strategy, has already declared that the policy is ‘going to happen, definitely’ irrespective of the outcome of a public consultation.
In Bath the City Council is proposing to split the city into four “cells”. Vehicles would be prohibited from driving from one cell into another. They are also pushing for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods to be implemented.
The concept of 15-minute cities was conceived on the continent where cities like Paris have promoted the idea. But nobody has shown them to be practical in the modern world. We no longer have a range of specialist shops within easy walking distance and the elderly and incapacitated cannot walk or cycle for 15 minutes. Health facilities such as hospitals are rarely within 15 minutes walk and even general practices now tend to be in larger buildings serving a wider area. The single-handed GP serving a local community is long dead.
People have come to rely on cars – either their own or taxi/minicab/PHV services – to get around. And it’s rare that people only have friends and family within 15 minutes as some move house to cheaper neighbourhoods further out from city centres. Jobs are also now rarely available in a local area so travel is required if you want to improve yourself or earn more money – even in London public transport does not always provide a practical commuting route.
Politicians who support this concept rarely consider the practical impacts of what they are proposing and ignore those who object.
As we move into a New Year, this is just the latest example of how motor vehicles and those who use them are being prejudiced by the policies of tin-pot dictators in local councils. They think they know what is good for us but really don’t. The Government should remove the powers from local councils to destroy the road network by closing roads or limiting how they are used.
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