Tag Archives: philip hammond

Conscientious Objection and the “War on the Motorist”

“Philip “Hoverboard” Hammond”:http://quickrelease.tv/?p=1328, Secretary of State for Transport, says he’s going to “end the war on the motorist”, as if such a war exists rather than being the mental (in both senses) construct of the car-sick UK press and government.

Anyway, a comment on a “Guardian editorial on the absurdity of this assertion”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/02/unthinkable-declaring-war-motorists made me think:

bq. “I have to admit, there is a nice driver or two about who — in rush hour — politely wait for me to cross a four lane roundabout feed with no pedestrian crossing in the pouring rain pulling my wheelie suitcase. *These are the conscientious objectors of the war*, traitors to the driving shock troops who see a puddle and a pedestrian in proximity and say to themselves ‘Aha! Let’s have some fun!’.” (emphasis mine)
– “http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/7851556″:http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/7851556

I drive every day. I have no other choice except move house, or find a new job (neither of which is a desirable option). I am a reluctant driver, though, and I commute in a tiny Ford Fiesta (with a 1.25 litre engine that is, in my opinion, about all you need in a car this size; anything else is gross over-application of power).

The country A-roads that form my daily route get the odd roadie/MAMIL cycling on them. It’s not something I fancy doing, but fair play to them: they have every right to be there. I tend to ride mostly around town, or on the Bristol/Bath Railway Path or Kennet & Avon Canal Path. I’m always very careful to give them plenty of room, and I reduce my speed when passing them. Although I’m in a car, I wish these cyclists no harm (obviously!) and go out of my way to drive responsibly around them.

Thus we come to the war that _does_ exist: that on Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs). Whether by inattention, distraction or outright malice, cyclists and pedestrians are frequently on the receiving end of behaviour that, were it to take place in a different context (i.e. by “youths” and not in a car), would rightly be seen as anti-social.

And so to my declaration of Conscientious Objection from this war: I may drive, but I’m not lining up with the Jeremy Clarksons and James Martins of this world to run people off the road just because they use a different mode of transport.