Boom or bus?

The cycle lobby would have us dump our cars overnight. But is there an alternative to alternative transport? Words: Tim Dawson

Glasgow cycle campaigner Dave Holladay is a one- man integrated transport solution. He has a bike, but whenever possible prefers to fold it up (it's a special model that allows him to do this in seconds) and take the bus or train. ’l am not a cyclist,’ he proclaims. 'I just ride a bike when it makes most sense.’ When there is a big hill to climb, I get on the next bus. And if it is not going exactly where I want to get to, I am not worried. I can cover short distances on my bike in no time, so long as the bus has done the hard work on the hill.’

This saves him a great deal of time compared to users of other forms of transport. And he saves himself a lot of money. An encyclopaedic knowledge of public transport fare structures allows him to navigate Scotland for jellybeans. ’There are ways to travel from Glasgow to Edinburgh for as little as £2 by bus or £3.50 by train, if you know what you are doing,’ he says (and is right on both counts).

If everyone were like Dave Holladay there would be no car congestion in Glasgow and Edinburgh. And when you did need to use a car, your journey would be a pleasure instead of the slow, grinding pain familiar to most of us.

But we are not all like Dave Holladay. However rational his ideas about tranSport are, most think them eccentric. It is just too easy to start a car journey. There it is, outside your home, no dash for the bus or struggle to carry bags. Later, when you are stuck in traffic or searching for a place to park, the car might seem less attractive, but by then your transport decision has been made.

The problem is that as more and more people make the same decision at the start of more and more journeys, the less tenable any of those journeys become. So what will it take for the rest of us to join Holladay on the bike, bus or train?

There are two possible models for change. The last time Britain faced transport Armageddon was at the end of the 19th century. Increasing prosperity caused massive increases in horse-drawn transport. As well as congestion there was a serious emissions problem. David Begg’s spiritual ancestors fretted that Glasgow and Edinburgh would be engulfed with horseshit. As things turned out, it took the horrendous slaughter of horses during World War I and the introduction of the internal combustion engine to save us.

The other model is for gradual, rational change, driven by what we want, rather than technological change or dire economic necessity. Car-free days are an increasingly popular idea all over Europe. They give people the excuse to experiment with different ways of travelling. Not every transport option will suit every occasion or person. It may be, by trying out the bike or the bus, that any of us will find ways to become part of a quiet transport revolution. Mental health charity SAMH is promoting a ’Change Travel Week' during which it is challenging Scots to try a day or two without their cars.

If the alternative to such an experiment is a re-run of the First World War, and another technological advance like the car (which, incidentally has killed more people that World War I and all subsequent wars put together) then it is an initiative surely worth

trying. Change Travel Week, Mon 18-Fri 22 Sep, 0131 467 7905; European Car Free Day, Fri 22 Sep, including a

Pedestrian Parade, starting East Market Street, Edinburgh, noon, led by Robin Harper MSP.

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The Quotes

'I am thinking English, speaking with an English accent all the time, and whistling Spice Girls songs at the weekend.’ Renee Zellweger gets into method mode for her role as Bridget Jones.


Martin O'Neill Wins ’understatement of the year’ award for his reaction to Celtic’s 6—2 annihilation of Rangers.

’I would no more dream of letting my boyfriend drive my fertility than I would dream of trying to drive his car.’

Julie Burchill has her say on the male pill.

’l have abused my talent but through all this madness it has stayed with me.’

Proving that the drugs don’t work, Marti Pellow threatens to unleash a solo album.

'I still do my own shopping.’

Proof if proof were needed that Mel 8 SW has her feet on terra .‘irm’a

9‘22 me Coming qurte soon . . . may be replaced. Which begs in the north east are gearing. up for their biggest ever

' cultural bonanza. Gaberdeen,‘

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meanwhile, are opening their doors to ethnic minority talent with a weekend telly writing course to be held in

Peebleshire this November. Migrations aims to open up access to the industry and provide would-be writers with

the chance to write a short film script. Further information is available on 0208 S76 4682. Be quick though, the deadline is Friday 15 September. . . Festival fever may be a distant memory to central belters, but our friends


the event formerly known as the Aberdeen Alternative Festival, brings a host of names together in October. Kid Creole, Mark thtle, Yolanda Snaith Theatredance and David Helfgott_are‘ ' among those who stayed away from the Edinburgh binge while Lee Hurst, Kate Rusby and ldlewlld are up for more festival fun. Most " intriguing appearance comes from Jerry Sadowltz who will undoubtedly refuse to tone down his Granite City-baiting.