Friday 27 September 2013

Eric Pickles. Oh, Eric.

He's at it again.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles wants to do away with parking enforcement based on cameras. Pickles, who believes high cycling rates in Cambridge are a problematic symptom of elitism, has announced a whole load of measures to make life easier on motorists. Or so he thinks.

So double yellow lines will be challenged to see if we really need them, parking on high streets accepted, and we won't be actually trying to catch people who park illegally because that would just be cruel. Apparently councils can make money out of that at the expense of hard working motorists. Or something like that.

I find myself wondering what the world according to Pickles is like. What sort of place does he want to live in? And who does he represent?

He doesn't like cyclists. He made that clear while talking about Cambridge. So he doesn't want cycle lanes to encourage people to take this 'elitist' choice - so he doesn't like the 'elite'. Likewise he doesn't approve of walking - the purpose of many of the parking restrictions he's so against is to make an environment in which we can walk, breathe and just get about safely. As he hates the two cheapest forms of transport, he also can't like the poor. He mustn't like disabled people either - parking restrictions are required to allow space for those who need mobility aids, and indeed are invaluable in keeping spaces clear for those who really DO need to park close to where they're going.

He also hates children. That is quite obvious - walking and cycling are also the only ways for children to have any independence, which is something (as a hater of pedestrians and cyclists) he's obviously opposed to. 

I also think he can't really like most motorists, who for the most part want to drive to where they're going without having the busiest sections partially or wholly blocked by other traffic - he's not really thought it through if he thinks doing away with parking restrictions is going to do anything other than block traffic. Thats mostly what yellow lines are all about - keeping the roads moving.

So if he isn't out to help cyclists, pedestrians, the 'elite', the poor, most motorists, disabled people or children, who does Pickles represent?

I suggest that Pickles is champion of the Moton. You know the folk I'm talking about - you're riding down the road on your bike, going outside the traffic past a hundred or more cars all in a line, and if they even emerge from the trance like state they're in all they can manage is to change their expression from hollow, empty nothingness to one of resentment. These are people for whom the car journey can be long, or it can be short, but so long as its a car journey thats fine, its not real time its 'zone out' time that doesn't really matter. Shuffling forward inch by inch isn't really taking up real time, its just extending the zone out... But then when they near their destination and 'switch on' again they're still pumped up with all the adrenaline of the road journey they've had, and they're pissed off. There isn't a parking space RIGHT THERE, why can't I park where I want to? Its so unfair. I've been looking for AGES.

Ironically Pickles proposals will only make journeys longer and more hazardous as roads are constricted with badly parked cars. This won't help motorists, it'll just make things worse for everyone else at the expense of those who are basically zonked out as they're driving anyway. School drop off zones will be even crazier melees than they currently are. There will no longer be the odd person on double yellow 'just popping in' to a shop, there will be abandoned cars ruining access for everyone else. You won't be able to cross the road safely, but you're not meant to - you're meant to get in your car and perform a u-turn. Which, incidentally, is what we require of this set of policies.

This is the politics of the zombie motorist - someone who finds car time in itself something entirely tolerable because it isn't really perceived as real, and who really doesn't care how long that takes. Someone who dreams of driving down the open road but is immune to the reality of being caged by the vehicle they invest so much of their emotion and money in to.

It is, in short, the politics of a dark, technological dystopia. Here and now.


  1. Have you come across Aberystwyth's unfortunate and accidental trial of not having traffic wardens?

    1. I have indeed. Didn't go so well :)

    2. In any argument about parking restrictions, Aber should be the trump card.

      It absolutely proved once and for all that if parking restrictions aren't enforced or aren't there, then all the traffic snarls up into one unholy mess caused by everyone "just popping into a shop for 5 minutes" or "but I have to park there" or, really pure idiotic selfishness.

      No common sense used at all - they had people parking on the wide promenade style pavements, cos there was nobody telling them not to; they had people double-parking on single-lane roads, cos they had to go into that shop and didn't eant to walk from a car park (Aber has car parks, you know, and it takes about five minutes to walk from one side of the town to the other - I know, and for that reason didn't have a car when I lived there).

  2. I think at root his mindset is the incredibly common one of 'motorists already pay a lot for their choice of transport already, why should we pay anymore?'

    Probably what he hears a lot already from kvetching friends, the bloke in the pub, etc. He genuinely thinks this is a populist stance, and from a purely selfish perspective he's probably right. But most people do actually think about other people's needs as well.

    1. I don't know - do most people who are stuck in traffic actually analyze the decisions that got them there?

  3. Pickles, if it's not weekly bin collections, it's a road parking free-fo-all. His soundbytes are a godsend for lazy journos :(

    1. He's an old-school Thatcherite. He's all 'personal freedoms' so long as they're the freedoms HE believes in. And that will always play well with some in the press.

  4. Thanks for the post, I am not sure I had the stomach for another rant about this fool. He also hates local government and loves changing things to make our lives harder. The man is a disgrace.