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Cutting your car use
'A practical guide for people who want to reduce their car use by making simple changes to their travel habits, or by sharing or giving up their car'. By ANNA SEMLYEN. Reviewed by MICK ALLAN.
In the UK the inexorable rise of private car use over the last few decades has led to a society whose transport system is totally dominated by the motor car and the infrastructure required to accomodate it. A tiny band of campaigners and complainers have been banging their heads against the car-culture brick wall for years, warning of the dangers of pollution and other costs to the environment, 'peak oil' and oil dependency and the risks posed not just to our safety but to our health. Unfortunately, car dependency in the UK is now so ingrained that few motorists can even see that there are alternatives.
Semlyen's book starts from the point of view that owning a car isn't a necessity but a lifestyle choice. It explores all the alternatives from walking to public transport and, where giving up the car isn’t an option, it outlines ways of minimizing the impact of our car use. I expected there to be a big section on cycling but it only gets a disappointing three or four pages. Cycling has an enormously important role to play in providing an alternative to the car so I really wanted the cycling chapter, in particular, to be robust, informative and inspiring.
The time is ripe for a book like this and I wanted it to be a powerfully compelling, inspirational and informative weapon in the battle to get people out of their motor vehicles. I was disappointed to find it merely informative. But perhaps this says more about my expectations than the book, pitching Anna Semlyen's little book up against car culture and the marketing might of the global automotive industry was never going to be a fair fight.
The guide is full of useful information, especially the very comprehensive directory. And it is worth its cover price for this section alone. Anyone who has decided to explore alternatives to their car use or would like to encourage friends or family to do so will find Anna’s book an immensely useful resource.
Published by Green Books Guides. ISBN 978 1 900322 15 7
There are US and Welsh language editions.
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Socialism can only be achieved on a bicycle