So London has shown the cojones to do something about the worst traffic congestion problem in Britain: Levy a £5 fee on anyone who wants to drive within the 8-square-mile core of the city during business hours.
Harsh… but the problem isn’t going to clear itself up and medicine can taste pretty nasty. The rest of Great Britain is watching to see how the plan goes, planning to roll out similar plans elsewhere if it makes a difference. Early reports say that downtown London looks “like Christmas day” (i.e. deserted).
It’s such a simple solution, really, but so hard to utter without offending car-centric sensibilities: Car use must be disincentived. Not banned. Not punished. Just made less attractive. Cars have taken over the world and it’s going to be hard work to take it back. But it has to happen, one small step at a time. It’s almost impossible to imagine an American politician risking a plan like this — political suicide. But eventually, I think, similar plans will become a virtual inevitability all over the world.
Update: Ongoing reports on how the first days of the charge are actually going.