If you live in the Cambridge area like I do, you've probably also had a heated discussion about the congestion charge which could soon come into place across Cambridge. Looking at the Congestion Charge map (Downloadable PDF, source article), it's like someone gave an idiot a big black Sharpie and told them to go nuts on a map of the city - the whole of Cambridge within A14 and M11 boundaries is included in the congestion charge area! That's inclusive of all the Park & Ride stations, the Science Park and the Addenbrooke's hospital.
Of course, it's for the good of the city, since "Cambridge is a medieval city and it simply wasn't designed for motor cars", says Shona Johnstone,
Sharpie-armed village idiot council leader.
Sure, I appreciate that the center of Cambridge - in my eyes defined as the Grafton Centre and Lion Yard area - isn't made for high traffic density. I also appreciates that this only applies to the hours between 7:30 and 9:30 in the morning.
But the Science Park? The Park & Ride areas? You've got to be kidding me! Isn't the whole point of those being on the edge of town keeping cars outside of city centre and encouraging the use of such services?
I'm reasonably convinced that the owners of buildings in the Science Park will come out with pick axes against Johnstone, and that these areas will be excluded from the final ruling, but someone still thought it was worth putting forward the suggestion to include ALL of Cambridge in the Congestion Charge area. This leaves me with that niggling feeling you get when you sense that idiocy might still prevail over simple common sense, and that a repeated headdesk motion may be the only thing you'll be left with.
Cambridge Council is wasting its breath on me trying to tell me it isn't doing it for the revenue they can get from the thousands of people who enter the boundaries of the city every morning. Why else would it include high density, yet city-fringe areas? We're not the ones wrecking havoc amongst the pretty stone streets of town centre. The only bloody benefit I see is that they might get cyclists off Mill Road.
So if you're as convinced as I am that Cambridge needs to look at alternatives before dipping into our collective wallet, take action! You'll find the petition against the Congestion Charge here and the Facebook group dedicated to discussing the issue here. The "official" Cambridge Congestion Charge discussion group is also a good place to go vent your frustration and find out what actions can be taken.
I would suggest that Cambridge look at the OC Transpo bus system in Ottawa, Canada - my hometown - amongst some, for tips on how to do a better job at offering us a more suitable public transportation service. I never appreciated OC Transpo until I came to the UK and realised that most towns have completely disjointed, technologically-incompetent companies running the show, leaving us standing in the cold rain - literally. Even in bloody mid-July!
Oh no, now I'm getting started on the weather, I really better stop here.