This is not me ranting away, but an op-ed piece by Rosamund Urwin in London's Evening Standard newspaper. Varsovians - your love affair with the car is a throwback to the 1960s. You are catching up with lost time; but things change, and car use is slowly fading in world's largest cities.
Fading all too slowly. My fourth week in London, I can see how our planet's developed cities are being fouled by the motorcar just as the less developed cities are fouled by open drains. Walking around Ealing, this lovely suburb is blighted by cars. We humans want it all - house, car, clothes, etc - status, in a word. Cut the car out of the equation, and suddenly everything fits. The beautiful Brentham Garden Suburb, so carefully designed by Arts and Crafts architects between 1903 and 1915, is today visually ruined by cars parked in a solid line on both sides of the streets.
Below: Flog the black SUV with the darkened rear windows and buy a detached home, for God's sake. Apart from anything else, the cars are spoiling the view.
It's time to move on. The age of the oversized, fossil-fuel powered car has passed. Its demise will not be quick - people are lazy and selfish. But it will happen, in stages, as the new reality dawns...
Stage One. Realise that there is nothing big or clever about owning a large, powerful car. No, in the developed world, it no longer impresses; it is a symbol not of status but of your anti-social, egotistical personality (think fart in a crowded lift). What does impress, especially in London with its house prices, is property. (A nice detached house at the top end of Birkdale Road is a lot more impressive than a semi off the Brunswick Road. And motorists - you could afford it if you just ditched the mobile status symbol.) Averaged out across the week, you spend 12 plus hours a day in your house and (if you're unfortunate) two in your big vehicle, which costs you a small fortune to finance, insure and run. And contributes to your ill-health in later life.
Stage Two. If you really must have a car, have a small one, and use it as infrequently as you can. Save energy, emit less. Treat the car as a domestic appliance, not as a status symbol. It should be as energy efficient as possible. No low-profile tyres to scrape expensive alloy wheels on kerbs. No barrage of optional extras that pump up the list price to twice that of the base model. No 'performance pack' that potentially gives you vastly more speed than is legally permitted on public roads. Still, if you do need a car - hire one, or share one. Or call a taxi. The ownership model is in decline.
Stage Three. You live in a city. Use its amenities - public transportation. Walk. We all need to rack up 10,000 paces a day (8km/5 miles) of walking a day, according to the NHS, the World Health Organisation and the Surgeon-General of the US. That's really hard to do if you drive everywhere by default. Half and hour of brisk cycling is the equivalent in health terms of 5,000 paces. And on a bus or train you can benefit from Twitter, Google and the rest of the social media. Which you can't in a car. The Millennial Generation is more interested in the latest mobile devices than in owning cars. You'll not impress them with a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. An Apple iPhone 6S draws more gasps.
Finally, a bit of good news...
Nearly 60% of Poles choose public transport over carThis time two years ago:
Poles are becoming conscious of the Earth's finite resources and are making changes in their own households, the Ministry of the Environment's research indicated. According to the survey, over 70% of Poles limit their water consumption, while 57% choose public transportation or cycling over cars whenever they can. Half of respondents said they purchase energy-saving light bulbs, refrigerators and washing machines (40%), additionally, they switch off lights when leaving a room (67%).
Ministry of Environment
Leeds, by day
This time four years ago:
Bad customer service - a camera repairer to avoid
This time six years ago:
November weather notes
This time seven years ago:
First snow, winter 2008-09
This time eight years ago: