Does the name Alsager have an American sound to it? There is certainly something slightly un-English there, that causes pronunciation confusion in strangers. But hey, we have a wide main road, we have young people with cars, we have our own version of the drugstore:
I set out this evening hoping to take atmospheric pictures of our nightlife…. but there was not a lot happening at the fish-and-chip shop. Further down the main drag is the strip where all the restaurants huddle together. George Orwell in Down and out in Paris and London wrote about how the Paris restaurants sold used cooking oil from the posh establishments down through the ranks until the French equivalent of the greasy spoon got the disgusting much-used oil…. not that such a thing could happen here.
Behind these establishments is a large car park. Cars park along the main road. Where have they driven from?
Alsager is not very big. The map shows the town and two circles, the inner one a half-mile radius from the food centre of Alsager and the outer one a 1-mile radius. Almost the entire town falls within the 1-mile radius.. One mile is an easy 5-minute bike ride.
Watching the comings and goings along the main drag showed that the good people of Alsager drive to get their food. They don’t walk and they certainly don’t bike.
Of course this is perfectly normal for most towns in the country. Driving has become the default transportation option, in spite of it being the most expensive and the most damaging. And we have let this happen! We have actually contributed vast amounts of money to build the infrastructure that encourages everybody to take the car.
Here’s an idea for government policy: Set a target of, say, 30% of journeys to be on bikes. Then ensure 30% of transport spending goes on bike promotion until the target is met. This will be surprisingly easy because 30% of spending is such a vast amount of money! Somehow I can’t see it happening just yet.