The idea of learning to drive hadn’t seriously crossed my mind until a couple of months ago. The cities I have lived in – London, Canterbury, and Amsterdam – have too many cars and unless you enjoy sitting in traffic, driving to your destination is ill-advised. For more than twenty-five years I have pretty much managed to get around by bike, foot, or public transport.

Yet a couple of months ago I noticed how not being able to drive had become a barrier. Whenever I organise reuse workshops the biggest headache is always moving the equipment around. I have to rely on inconvenient and often unreliable lifts and taxis.

Sometimes travel arrangements fall through. I’m still disappointed about what happened at the end of a recycling-themed event I organised. We’d put on workshops in a South London park, for which we’d borrowed lots of equipment that needed to be returned the same day. In the rush to get things packed away at the end of the event the equipment was separated and a hired van collected the borrowed stuff, as arranged. However, my lift had fallen through by then, and I was left with a load of workshop equipment, nowhere to put it, and not enough strength nor people power to carry it. I am sorry to say we wasted it by dumping it in the bin; what hypocrites! It was a last resort.

I look forward to the self-reliance driving will bring. I’ve been having lessons all week, and am surprised by how much I am enjoying learning this new skill that so many people take for granted. I suddenly realise what people see in driving. How fun it feels to get behind the wheel and stall at junctions!

If I have transformed from having no interest in cars nor driving to being an acolyte in the space of a week, it is testament to the great lure of the car. I hope my outlook toward cyclists doesn’t take a hateful and aggressive bent as I abandon the two-wheeled club, and forget what it’s like to feel vulnerable, and maligned on the road.

Considering the car is so conveniently seductive (eco bike-fans, like myself, are not immune) have we an realistic hope of scaling back CO2 emissions caused by car travel? In 2006 there a total of 49,886,549 cars were produced. Take a look at car production statistics updated in real time: scary food for thought.


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