London, 3 May 2000.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Westminster Riots Linked To Anti Car Views
...philosophy behind them worryingly close to Government policy.
Monday's anti-capitalist demo in London descended (predictably) into violence, with theft and criminal damage thrown in for good measure. It was promoted on anti-car group Reclaim the Streets' (RTS) website, which makes the link between anti car ideology and anti capitalist anarchy very clear when they say:
'The struggle for car-free space must not be separated from the struggle against global capitalism.'
They try to distance themselves from the inevitable violence with a disclaimer which in effect says "we're not actually organising it, it's a grass-roots protest and if it becomes violent it's not our fault". But, a few screens later, their website seems to be inciting people to violence:
'At first the people stop and overturn the vehicles in their path... they are avenging themselves on the traffic by decomposing it into its inert original elements.'
'These people are extremists,' says ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries. 'But their philosophy can be found in every local transport plan. Their 'direct action' is balanced by other, superficially more respectable groups who quietly push within local and national government for anti car measures.'

As a result, we have a transport policy that seeks to penalise, tax and obstruct motorists who have no choice but to use their cars in place of public transport which simply doesn't exist. The poorest are, of course, hit hardest. Congestion is made worse by schemes to 'remove roadspace' from the car in favour of buses which don't go where people need to get to. Token efforts are made to 'integrate' buses and trains, but under no circumstances must the rail network ever be made more accessible to the car driver.

Look at this quote from the Reclaim the Streets Website:

'We are about taking back public space from the enclosed private arena. At its simplest this is an attack on cars as a principal agent of enclosure. It's about reclaiming the streets as public inclusive space from the private exclusive use of the car.'
(RTS clearly struggle with the concept of a public highway!)

Compare it with these from the platform of a conference organised by a group called SERA, which, in 1997, claimed 90MPs and seven Cabinet Ministers as members:

'The car is the last bastion of freedom - this must be overturned'
'We have succeeded in making people feel guilty about using their cars - but they still do it'
Kris Beuret - De Montfort University, Social Research Associates
'We must reduce the convenience, ease and low marginal cost of car use.'
Councillor Dave Merrett, City of York Council
'Edinburgh is re-thinking the allocation of movement space, promoting car free lifestyles.'
David Begg - Now Chairman of the Commission for Integrated Transport
'But the attack on the car is just the beginning,' continues Humphries. 'Only yesterday Friends of the Earth launched an attack on air travel. It is the very concept of freedom of movement and mass travel, the very system of democratically accountable capitalism that is under attack. That is why these people do not want real money spent on new rail infrastructure in place of the desperately needed road schemes that they have succeeded in getting two gullible governments to cancel.'
'New (transport) infrastucture needs to be seen as a last resort'
David Begg
'Won't the streets be better without cars? Not if all that replaces them are aisles of pedestrianised consumption or shopping "villages" safely protected from the elements. To be against the car for its own sake is inane; claiming one piece as the whole jigsaw.'
Reclaim the Streets

The ABD supports sense on transport, and has a three point plan for a positive policy:

  1. Understand the journeys people make and work with them rather than against them.
  2. Proper investment in road and rail infrastructure using existing motoring taxes, with adequate and free station car parks.
  3. Planning new development to reduce the need for long commutes and encourgement of new technology to reduce the need to make journeys.

Notes for Editors