Blog of the Quarter: At War with the Motorist

This article was published in 2021, in Magazine 152.

The At War with the Motorist blog was set up in 2010; it’s tongue-in-cheek name references Philip Hammond’s pledge as Transport Secretary to end Labour’s ‘war on the motorist’. The blog aims to motivate and speak for those who want an alternative to roads and cars. It takes a sceptical look at the media and includes blog posts on transport psychology, statistics, and economics.

‘Tell them it’s OK: they can still drive all their journeys. Nobody’s banning cars. Nobody’s closing the road. They’ll work out the cycling by themselves later.’

Stop calling them ‘car bans’ discusses how local authorities often face a battle to implement LTNs because of the language they use in their communications. It also advises advocates to refrain from piling in on Twitter to tell people you can cycle in your 90s or with a fridge or young children. Sometimes it won’t help convince people. Sometimes you just need to politely answer people’s questions.

‘A vision alone is a waste of everyone’s time if you just wish for it without working for it.’

In Beware ministers bearing targets author Joe Dunckley takes a look at the 1996 National Cycling Strategy which set a target of 10% of journeys made by bike by 2012. In fact, fewer journeys were made by bike 16 years later. The blog post explores the reasons for this and the reality that if the current government really wants 50% of urban journeys to be made by active travel within just nine years, they’re going to need a pretty radical plan, some serious money, honest communication with the public and some diggers in the ground fast.