Once every two or three weeks I unavoidably need to drive from home on the outskirts into the centre of Grantham and back home again, so I know all too well the comfort, the freedom and the convenience of using the car.
But for the rest, often four or five further journeys a week, I use the local bus or walk – at least 40 minutes walk each way. How I yearn for a totally car-free lifestyle! This has nothing to do with claiming “I am holier than thou” – it is simply that I enjoy being a two-legged self-propelled human being and appreciate being able to move around so freely in this way. But I don’t think I am being catered for in tomorrow’s Grantham.
I am sure the townsfolk are proud that Grantham has a bright future (Journal, ‘Town pride boosted by big projects’ October 31) but I am equally sure there is a silent thinking minority of townsfolk who, like me, are asking: ‘When will we come to our senses and get back on our own two feet? When will we become real human beings again?’
The answers to such questions don’t appear to have any place in celebrations about Grantham’s future as reported in the Journal. Over the last few decades, as the town’s retail, service and manufacturing businesses have developed, it has become more and more difficult to cope with everyday life in Grantham (and elsewhere of course) without access to a personal tonne of machinery, an awful lot of power and a daily supply of oil. The car-indoctrinated mind has destroyed the very spirit of having and using a comprehensive town bus service. Walking, still our natural and fully-sustainable means of self-mobility, seems to be regarded by Grantham’ futurists as a thing of the past, for in last week’s Journal report there is little or no mention of developing dedicated walking and cycling routes, no mention of planning for a steady reduction in car-domination within the town. There is no mention of new housing developments with roads designed to accommodate smooth-running, passenger-attracting bus services, free from awkward bends and choke-points caused by carelessly-parked cars. None of this seems to have any place in Grantham’s celebrations for the future.
The town’s bus services, bus drivers and support staff have a far greater potential future importance in keeping Grantham moving than they are given credit for and I, for one, offer a ‘thank you’ to them for what they struggle to do in today’s Grantham on a biased and very uneven playing field.
What a state we are in. There must be something very, very wrong with our ideas of ‘progress’, for in reality the car-dependent lifestyle is progress towards de-humanisation of daily life, and towards bad health. We know it is – all the evidence is there – yet we are too proud to take any notice. Speak to your GP about it and ask their advice.
Nothing of this seems to feature in any celebrations about Grantham’s future.
There is, of course, one UK political party well tuned-in to this kind of thinking, but I have written enough this time round. I sincerely hope that others will respond to the Journal’s invitation to join in this great debate. It really is so important for all of us.