There is an inescapable theme to the pub chats that revolve around driving in or out of London, or any major city, for that matter.
The majority of people who grew up in a big city don’t seem to know how to drive, or at the very least they try to avoid it. They have become accustomed to using public transport everywhere they go.
London has a wealth of decent public transport links including the world’s oldest (and best colour coded) underground, black cabs that will get you anywhere, revamped iconic route-master buses, Boris bikes, overground trains and even some ferry services on the River Thames.
Why would anyone drive? Paying through the teeth for the congestion charge, stopping and starting at every traffic jam, listening to caffeine-happy morning radio DJs blabber on while your morning cuppa constantly spills onto your lap and having to pay for parking, road tax and extra insurance just grates at the soul. Sure it’s air-conditioned but is it worth it?
It will be worth it if plans for a new underground road tunnel are put into motion with the sole aim of keeping London’s drivers, well, in motion, as opposed to overly emotional.
It would relieve the pressure on London’s crammed main roads and ancient narrow streets. It could also bring the joy of driving in a city back, albeit underneath the city.
The countless number of car companies like the Jennings Motor Group could start tempting the road sceptics to invest in a shiny new ride again, which would have an economic benefit too.
The ring road being proposed could be 22 miles long, with entry and exit points at hotspots on the periphery of the City at the heart of London. Exits at Shoreditch, Camden, Earls Court Battersea and Old Kent Road would give drivers a circle line of their own, enabling them to go around the centre of town rather than through it.
Aside from being stressful for drivers, there is also an environmental consideration to be made when it comes to congestion. Traffic jams cause a lot of localised pollution in London and have contributed to the city’s air quality being amongst the poorest compared to other European capitals.
The Guardian have also suggested that London’s population could swell to ten million in the next 16 years, and unless people begin car sharing or suddenly appreciating the virtues of the London underground, congestion could be set to worsen.
And it’s not exclusively London commuters who suffer congested roads.
Another potential solution to the headache are car clubs. Londoners could access cars at certain parking points by using their Oyster cards. Using a similar structure to Boris bikes, you simply rent cars once you’re in the city centre, and drop them off at a designated space.
There are already over 200,000 members of car clubs in New York City, more than the whole of the UK combined, and if our car-happy American cousins across the pond can get it sorted then so can the ever-expanding number of Londoners, surely.