When I started working here I had no car and I walked everywhere, including the 45 minutes here and home each way each day, rain or shine... and I loved
it. The place I stayed then was rented, and (Edinburgh property prices being what they are,) when it came time to buy my first home I moved out of the city. I tried my damnedest to find somewhere where I wouldn't have to own a car - my house is two minutes walk from the nearest train station, but I tried commuting by train and it drove me mad: getting in is fine, but I have to wait until 7pm for the first train back home (plenty pass the station before then, none stop.)
So I bought a car (which I car share as much as possible with my housemate,) it's a low-emission compression diesel that averages about 55 miles to the gallon (and which incidentally would be even more environmentally friendly than it already is if biodiesel
were commercially available) and I still walk whenever possible in town.
In a couple of years Edinburgh city Council will introduce road tolls for those of us who drive into the city, a move I whole-heartedly support, but not one penny from which will go toward increasing the public transport available to me (South Lanarkshire isn't on the list to get any of the funds raised by the Edinburgh tolls, it's almost all likely to go on the city's proposed internal tram network with the remainder going to the Borders, West Lothian, and Fife transport authorities)
This week a colleague of mine has organised 'eco-week' at work: a week of events aimed at raising awareness of environmental issues among pupils and staff. Today it's transport day, and as part of this the parking facilities have been halved with a fee imposed on staff to park their cars for the day (the idea being this would encourage us to find alternate means of transport)
Unless I'm prepared to extend my already long-ish working day by two hours (which I'm not today) there is none, so I brought the car as usual and (somewhat grumpily) resigned myself to coughing up a few quid to park it... only I pulled into the campus to find almost every one of my car owning colleagues (most of whom live in the city, and many of whom could easily have walked in or taken the bus) had done the same! there was nowhere to park but on the street, so I'm even grouchier about this than I was expecting to be.
I was already annoyed about this Transport Day thing: the principle is sound, and if it were being done well I'd be happy to put up with being inconvenienced, but the colleague in question is putting a very complex issue in black and white terms, as well as presenting a small and sketchy sample of alternatives: there's a cycling advocacy group on campus today, an example of Honda's loss-making hybrid petrol-electric car (a two seater? how practical! and how's that electricity generated? oh yes, burning fossil fuel...) and a rep. from Lothian buses. That's it. Nothing about organising car pools, or the development of hydrogen fuel cells, no mention of means to make existing cars less harmful to the environment (biodiesel I've already mentioned, but what about LPG gas conversions?) nothing about presenting drivers with well funded and thought out alternatives before taxing us all through the noses...
so I'm being demonised, penalised and put-out today all in the name of raising environmental awareness, which I guess I wouldn't mind if real awareness was being raised but it plainly isn't so I'm cross.