In an editorial we might have written ourselves, which talked of conditions “in this overcrowded, over-taxed, over-damp island,” the Daily Mail of December 3rd opened a campaign against pollution from vehicle fumes. But it failed to make the point that some of the worst offenders are Public Service vehicles – taxis, ‘buses, coaches, British Road Services vans. Surely Mr. Marples can ensure that these are in decent tune?
Being misdirected by an official direction sign is annoying. One December afternoon we set off in a Ford Lotus-Cortina to drive to Whipsnade Village. Dropping down into Berkhampstead from Chesham all of us in the car saw a sizeable sign WHIPSNADE which pointed straight on, at the main A41 cross-roads. But this led us into a maze of, admittedly rather fascinating, little roads, railway bridges and dead-ends. Then the writer recalled that when he used to go to watch model-car racing at D. A. Russell’s Modeldrome near Eaton Bray, close by Whipsnade, he used to turn left at these traffic-lights, drive a mile or more out of the town, and then right at a rather obscure turning. This is still the way to the famous zoo and something should be done about that confusing sign.
The sensational Buchanan report advocates banning private cars from big towns; if this happens the Motor Industry will be up in arms, because if too many restrictions are placed on the savagely-taxed private motorist, money spent on cars, thus keeping home sales healthy, may well be spent in future on homes, boats, light aeroplanes and other less controlled pleasure possessions. And the spivs will have a fine time allocating fictitious town addresses to country car owners!
Instead of discussing this weighty report in detail, I would like to enquire whether Prof. Buchanan thought of it himself or cribbed it from The Graphic? For in August 1929 that journal, in a series of articles on “The Next Few Years,” by Floyd W. Parsons, stated that “of all the problems demanding time and attention now, transportation is of prime importance…. In order to prevent an injustice to other forms of transport, buses and lorries will have to be subjected to regulations as to rates and services just as railroads are today…. And in the near future the driver will be arrested more often for going too slow than for going too fast…. Streets will be reserved for vehicular one-way traffic only, the pavements for pedestrians being lifted to balconies on first and second-floor levels.” My italics – because it sounds as if Mr. Floyd Parsons of 35 years ago is Prof. Buchanan of 1963! To make my point, we reproduce on this page two drawings, one by Howard Robertson, F.R.I.B.A., published with this article from The Graphic of 1929 and the other from Prof. Buchanan’s current report. – W. B.