Getting on my bike...

I discovered a very interesting fact last night, which I have sourced to Transport2000, and the fact is this: only 13% of journeys in Outer London are made on public transport!

Although I have been walking and cycling more, I have to admit that some of those car journeys were me.

So what stops me from getting out of my car*:
· because I know I can park somewhere, generally for free, when I get to the other end
· because I am terrified of sharing a road with cars, when I’m on my bike and only really cycle across the park to go to the shops
· because I’m worried if I leave my bike anywhere for too long, it will get nicked
· because although it’s very easy for me to get into the centre of London by public transport, getting across town usually means about 2 or 3 connections

I’m not personally that worried about safety…my night bus usage has dropped a lot in recent years: although that’s more a function of age and going to bed early than fear! However, I know other people are and I do try not to travel anywhere on buses between say, 3 and 5pm, because I do find being on a bus full of school kids at times intimidating.

I find it frustrating that Ken Livingstone has really focused all his attention on reducing congestion in the centre and inner London boroughs (quite successfully to be fair, I'm not frustrated by that). However, all his transport strategy aims for in outer London is that the rise in traffic slows. So, in effect, he is targeting an increase in car use in outer London!

For me, personally, the biggest thing to get me out of my car would be a larger, more connected network of cycle lanes; ones that separate me from cars and lorries completely. I think a lot has been done in central London around this, but we need more in outer London. Oh, and can we somehow design cycle routes that don’t disappear when we get to the hard bits like one-way systems and roundabouts! That’s the bit when I need them the most!

I also have a suspicion that if we sorted out school transport, made it a more attractive to parents, who think that kids on buses now have a sort of mobile Lord of the Flies thing going on and don’t want theirs part of it, then we might just get the school run cars off the road. That would reduce car use, and does during holidays, by 20% alone!

*I am aware that you can walk and cycle and still not be going on public transport.

A letter from Tony

Aaaargh! So now we know, what's in store for us if we sign up to a 10 Downing street petition.

Yesterday, horror of horrors, I got an email from Tony Blair, making the case for ID cards. I have so far resisted the temptation to clamp my hands over my ears and sing 'I'm not listening, I can't hear you, la, la, la...' and despite the rather scary proposition of the police 'fishing' for fingerprints at whim, as highlighted on The Today Programme this morning, I'm not going to go into here what's wrong with ID cards.

But, what does interest me is this whole online political engagement 'thing' that has arisen with these petitions. Even though it means I have to receive emails from Tony Blair, I do find it all rather exciting because some of these petitions are involving more than us 'usual suspects'; and if you're reading my blog, then unless you're my Mum or my friend Ali in Holland, you know I mean you!!!

The 'Scrap the ID cards petition' got 28,000 signatures, the road pricing one 1,500,000 and each one of those 1,500,000 is going to get an email dropping into their inbox arguing for the Government Policy. Now, I wouldn't normally wish this on my worst enemy, but actually, I think it is more important that people start to be politically engaged first and then politically engaged with me and the Lib Dems, on the basis that that first bit is harder to achieve than the second.

I got the viral email asking me to sign the road pricing petition via a non political friend, who had sent it on to a number of others. They all probably vote but that's as far as they go; the only regular political discussion they seem to take part in is 'Jo-baiting', an unsurprisingly easy thing to do, perhaps they save the interesting stuff for when I'm not there!

It's also likely that those who are going to get their letter from Tony, were on average younger than the voting population; just that group who seem so disillusioned and disengaged with the political process - this has got to be a good thing for politics and the taxpayers and voters, surely?

I'm not the only one that is really excited about the potential that viral campaigning has, even if it is the Downing St that's got all the email addresses, am I?

More working from home, please!

Gary, the Sports Presenter from the Today Programme, couldn't make it through the snow this morning and did his sports bit from his own house! This is good, because it shows that even the Today Programme presenters can 'work from home'!! Hooray!

Why aren't we doing more of this? Why do we all insist on piling into trains, getting into cars and criss crossing the country making ourselves tired and ruining the planet?

It drives me crazy that we don't take advantage of how technology is able to free us and instead just let it enslave us - after all in the UK we work the longest hours and are the least productive country in Europe - or at least we used to be, I don't know how EU enlargement has impacted that.

Of course, the problem here is 'Bosses' because a culture that allows working from home can only come from the top - if your boss doesn't approve, well, you just don't work from home, do you?

And yet, I find it completely illogical that more Bosses don't see the benefits to their teams and therefore themselves of regular 'working from home' - it's almost as if, because they had to sacrifice a home life in order to spend 3 hours a day commuting to and from an office they think that's the only way to succeed. Or, maybe they just want the rest of us to suffer like they do....

In fact, in a number of organisations that I've wroked with, it's only the top Bosses that are allowed to work from home - it's almost as if it's seen as a reward for having practically worked yourself into an early have to nearly ruin yourself and your family first; what a waste!

There are obviously times when a team needs to get together and work together but I know lots of organisations that , due to historical mergers, operate over multiple sites, hundreds of miles from each other. There are also obviously jobs that can't be done remotely! But these are often the exception. Blimey, if Gary from the Today Programme can work from home, many of the rest of us probably can!

So, they know the technology supports remote working; the economics supports remote working; society supports remote working - for goodness sake in the UK we spend less time with our kids than any other country in Europe, yet lock more of them up when they commit crimes - just think what a difference having an adult around after school could make to so many teenagers!

Many organisations have looked at home working as a way on cutting down the number of desks and space needed; they've sold it in to their senior management as a cost saving idea and consequently, it has failed because that's not what it's really about. (Note: ID Card people - if you're not honest about the real benefits of a course of action, it is very likely to fail)

I think home working, working from home, remote working, whatever you want to call it, needs to be sold in to organisations on the basis of their Corporate Social Responsibility - to flexible working, to being a good employer, to being more productive, to lessening the carbon foot print of the organisation, to having, basically, a slightly less frazzled work force!

Just think, if just half of us, could spend one day out of five working on a PC or a laptop from home, instead of traipsing into the office what that could do for reduction in CO2 emissions, traffic, accidents and our ability to organise delivery and repair people - just that last bit would reduce massive stress in so many people!

Thanks, Gary from the Today Programme!!

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