Monday, April 15, 2019


Motor Cars and Roads

Roger Scruton, "On Roads and Railways," Untimely Tracts (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1987), pp. 169-171 (at 170):
We are familiar with the noise, the dirt, the danger and the general heightening of frenzy that are engendered by the motor car. Most of us would be happy to see motor vehicles excluded from towns and the roads handed over to pedestrians, cyclists and — for the chronically indolent — the occasional sedan chair. But no such ban could be contemplated without a serious government policy — a policy of determined reaction against the motor car.

We are equally familiar with the ruin caused by roads — the ruin of towns, villages, wildlife and countryside. The creative capacity of roads is even worse, however, than their capacity to destroy. Roads enable people to live in one place, work in another, rear children in a third, take their leisure in a fourth and remain obscurely attached to a fifth which they sometimes visit. Roads scatter the population, destroying home and community and placing a veil before our purposes, which can be fulfilled only after a frenzied burst of motion to some other place.

Roads are therefore a major cause of man's estrangement. Under their influence he lives subject to the illusion that he can be better satisfied in some other place, and in some other company, than those to which fate has assigned him.
A true conservative policy would involve the following measures: a cessation of all motorway construction; a high fuel tax; a restriction of motor traffic in towns; the installation of cycle lanes; an expansion of the railways and a restoration of the branch lines.
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