Freedom and Rights?

4 Jan

NHS could be ‘overwhelmed’ by people with long-term medical conditions: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jan/03/nhs-overwhelmed-long-term-medical-conditions

One of the big accusations commonly leveled at cyclists, is that we are ‘elitist’ and have a ‘holier-than-thou attitude. Simply because we happen to live healthy active lives and not kill people or pollute the air we breathe in a bid to get around. The majority of politicians and decision makers do not appear to see these benefits and instead obsess about the votes they would lose, and the ‘right’ to drive. The UK is a country that prides itself on freedom and personal rights (as any sensible country should), but where should these rights and freedoms end? Should they be curbed when they infringe on other peoples rights? In a way they already do, there are laws in place that, for example, say that you do not have a right to shoot a shotgun in public, as this would infringe on the right of other people to live. So in this (rather extreme) example, behaviour is restricted according to the potential damage it can do to the rest of society.

However this system seems to fall to pieces as soon as it encounters the motor vehicle. Whereby those who drive are not only allowed to continue doing so despite the damage to society, but are also actively subsidized by the government.  So in this way, those who choose to cycle or walk are subsidizing the very group that pollutes the air, destroys the roads, damages the earth and endangers this very same group that subsidizes them. Many people at this point would say “So what? I enjoy cycling, they enjoy driving. Does it really matter where the money goes?” My answer to this is: what if that money spent on drivers could be used elsewhere? What if it wasn’t just about roads versus cycle tracks? What if that subsidy is depriving your children of the best education they could get? Or raising your council tax? Or maybe even encouraging lifestyles that are such a drain on the health system that it may not be able to function properly in the future! 

Maybe it is time for us to put on our ‘elitist’ and ‘holier-than-thou’ hats, and say to the politicians “We subsidize your freedom to drive that over-sized car. We represent a healthier and happier future for this country. Start paying attention to what we want and need, to keep doing the good we do.” This isn’t about proportional representation, according to amount of population that travel by a certain mode. But about supporting what people need and not necessarily what they want (at this point in time anyway), and supporting lifestyles that are good for the country as a whole.

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One Response to “Freedom and Rights?”

  1. Paul February 12, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    Two years ago I did a London to Paris cycle ride so I cycled from one capital city to another and through the respective countries.
    First off there are the same amount of problem drivers in both countries however the massive difference is in the standard drivers. The English drivers are hostle and go out of their way to make life difficult. The French drivers give way and generally just move along with you. The main point in this is French drivers expect a higher level of skill and come closer to you however you feel safer.
    I think the solution is simple instead of spending all that money on speed cameras, give cyclist cameras instead and the road I cycle on would be a much more pleasant expereince for all concerned as half of the drivers would be banned.

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