18 AUGUST 1967, Page 23

Jam tomorrow

Sir: Mr Rex Malik's observation at the end of his piece on London's traffic that 'this is only to scrape the surface of a complex subject' is something of an understatement. Like most of those who discuss this question, he talks earnestly around the point while making no immediately relevant proposals, and merely leaves us with the usual hopeless feeling that the problem is one of infinite complexity, when in fact its solution requires nothing more than applied common sense.

London has become congested firstly because its population is moving around more each year, as industry organises itself into bigger units and people seek better housing conditions. A firm em- ploying ten men can recruit them in its immediate vicinity and not bother London Transport; with a payroll of a thousand this is out of the question, so that the gradual scaling-up of industry is con- stantly turning pedestrians into commuters. More- over the quest for less crowded housing condi- tions on the outskirts of London obliges people to travel farther to work each day, with the paradoxical result that by seeking to avoid con- gestion they intensify it.

Secondly, this trend towards more mobility has been accomplished by the growth of an obsessive and foolish preoccupation with personal transport in the form of the private car. Since it is clear that the requisite number of cars will not fit into the existing road system, we are left with a choice of two alternatives. Either we accept Mr Malik's proposition that 'the personal transportation vehicle is here to stay,' in which case London must

be converted into a concrete mess of motorways, underpasses and multi-storey car parks —which, as a voter and taxpayer. I for one am not pre- pared to tolerate; or we take the contrary view that London can stay, and the motor-car must go, leaving us. all using public transport. No doubt I shall be asked by what right I tell people that they cannot have cars: I ask in return by what right does the motorist presume to destroy an environment which I find congenial and offer in return the Chiswick Flyover!

The politicians, in fact. must make -up their minds whose votes are the more dangerous; those of the would-be car-owners or those of msself and the rest of the awkward squad who are quite happy to go by tube or bus, regard the private car as mobile litter. and take the strongest incep- tion to seeing our money spent on a road pro- gramme which only increases the congestion.

The policy required can be briefly summarised: (1) All public transport a free service financed out of general taxation (2) Working hours systematically staggered.

(3) All new road work ceased. and traffh: lights. road signs, parking meters and the other trash of automation torn up and replaced by trees.

(4) Those existing roads not required lot bus services and other essential utilities turned into pedestrian precincts and play streets.

//. Geer 37 Russell Road, London WI4