Notes from the Green Party MEP for East of England. Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Price of fuel protests

So we have three problems: (1) Petrol costs a lot; (2) The roads are congested because too many people are driving too many cars to too many places for no good reason; (3) there is a problem with carbon emissions and climate change which could be quite serious.

Does it seriously seem to be worthwhile trying to solve these problems by increasing the production of oil so as to bring the price down? Indeed, when you think about it, is item number one one of the problems? Or is it rather the solution to the other two things, which really are problems?

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Things useful for bringing up children without a car

A bus route

Living in town is helpful, but above all, living on a bus route is helpful, because children can learn to use buses quite easily, and if it stops nearby you can go door to door to a lot of places that can't easily be reached by car.

Annie used to go to her violin lessons on the other side of Oxford from an early age by herself. It seems as if it was from the age of about 6 or 7 (but I wonder if this was really so? She'll probably correct me if I'm wrong). See her onto the bus at one end, and she would arrive safely at the other, with her quarter-size violin, where her teacher's house was a short walk from the bus stop just beyond the railway bridge.

Both the children sampled the use of the bus to go to School at the age of 11. This involved changing buses in town. Older children would help the younger children to manage the journey and to change buses safely in town. Several local families were making this journey regularly from East Oxford to North Oxford, to a variety of schools in the same part of town, and the children all got to know each other and to look out for each other at both ends.

The main problem with it was the amount of time it took to do the journey by bus, because of changing buses, so they had to leave before 8 in the morning, even though the journey was only about three miles. Our girls took to cycling instead as soon as that seemed safe, because cycling took about half as long. But still, it was useful to have the bus as an option, particularly when the cello had to go to School too.

And then we used to use the bus to go to the railway station whenever we had a substantial amount of luggage, such that cycling was not an option. Many a happy holiday began with a number 4 bus to the railway station, and most holidays ended the same way.

None of this would have been easier with a car. Actually just about all of it would have been a complete nightmare if you'd tried to do it by car. So, for a happy life, a good bus service, not less than every ten minutes and preferably direct to the railway station is an absolute must. I think in old age, a regular bus service to the hospital is probably more important still, but old age is not the topic of this post right now.