Fake News, Car-Free zones, and Freedom

Recently there was a big uproar over a news story that was widely shared which claimed that a town was going to divide up the town into sections and people ‘would not be allowed to leave their section’ and this was all because of climate change. Well, it turns out that this was not a completely accurate story. Here is the real story. https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-oxford-climate-lockdown-016485612575

The county council of Oxfordshire, an upscale university and historic area of about 700,000 , has plans to create ‘traffic filters’ to encourage people to use public transportation or walk. It is true that this plan is about reducing emissions and this town has an ambitious plan for reducing emission. They also plan to charge hefty fees for non-low emission or electric vehicles that drive in the city. It’s important to note that Oxfordshire is a high-income, academic city and this kind of city is known for it’s progressive public policies. They can afford them.

red car parked beside brown concrete building
Photo by Samuel Sweet on Pexels.com

It is NOT true that people will be held prisoner in their neighborhoods or have to go through gates. But it is true that people who pass from their home neighborhood into a non-adjacent zone without an exemption will pay a hefty fine (70 pounds) and cars will be monitored by cameras that capture license plate numbers. However, this traffic filter system is mostly limited to a high traffic central area of the city that frequently suffers from traffic jams that slow down bus service.

So let’s discuss the uproar over this. Many people, myself included when I first heard about this, thought this was some kind of draconian plan by the evil UN or WEF. And although it is partially related to climate, from what I read on their website, the county council is mainly trying to improve traffic flow and reduce emissions. Yes, it will be inconvenient for people who don’t want to take the bus within that area of town, but no areas will be off-limits to cars. They claim that you may have to take a longer route, but you will be able to get where you want to go BY CAR. However, it might be faster to take the bus if you are traveling within that specific inner city area. From looking at the map, it appears that they want to prevent people from driving across or through the city from one side to the other and force you to go around if the city is not your destination.

These are the locations of the limited travel filters. As you can see by the map, the area around Oxford is mostly rural.

Think of a major college town that you have been to, maybe Austin or San Marcos. If they were to implement this plan, it would simply mean that only buses were allowed in the areas around the college and capital and other busy areas that could be served by busses. And this is already happening in some progressive cities. Car-free, bus only or bike only zones are not a new thing.

I thought it was interesting that Oxfordshire received a substantial grant to implement this traffic filter trial. “We have been awarded £12.7m from the Department of Transport’s bus service improvement plan (BSIP). This funding will cover the costs of the traffic filters, as well as other measures which encourage residents to travel more sustainably and make transport more affordable for young people.” The local bus companies also received funds to buy more electric busses.

The recently passed Infrastructure bill will provide billions of dollars to similar electric vehicle programs in the U.S. .

So we can see that the story contained some truth, but the details were exaggerated to make it seem scary and evil. However, I think the huge reaction to this story shows that people are very sensitive, as they should be, to having basic rights taken away and are very distrustful of government right now. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees about policies like this. Obviously the city council did their research and thinks this policy will be good for the city. I have a feeling that it will be good for some people and bad for others, like most policies that impact traffic patterns.

Some people love this idea and others hate it. You can’t please everyone. For me, I’m glad I live in the country. But if I had to go to the city, I would not be upset if I had to park my car and then walk or take a limited bus ride within the city if it was done well, with adequate parking and enough buses.

Walkable cities are actually a nice idea, if you can afford to live in one. The majority of cities with high ‘walkability’ scores are not affordable for most people. Or they are old and run-down with high crime where you wouldn’t want to walk at night. In other words, only a subset of people can afford to live in modern, eco-friendly cities where they can walk from their expensive apartment to an expensive restaurant or shopping or to work. Which means that we shouldn’t expect this to become the norm anytime soon. Most of us will continue to drive in from the suburbs or live in small towns that don’t have the demographics to support the type of shops and housing that work with walkable cities.

But this brings me to a point that I think needs discussing, that many of us are highly resistant to change, new ways of doing things, and anything that might inconvenience us, even if it really is a good idea or a necessary change to make life better, healthier, more ‘fair’, or less dangerous. I used to be in that group of highly resistant people. I am still quite suspicious of anything new, and I want all the details, but I am trying to be more willing to listen before I make a judgment on something. Just because it’s ‘not the way we’ve always done it‘ doesn’t mean it’s bad. Sometimes change is good!

Don’t worry, I am not turning into a progressive. But I think it’s important to consider that sometimes the old ways were NOT the best or the healthiest or the most fair to everyone. And I’m sure I triggered some people with that word ‘fair’. I mean it in the most basic way. Let’s make sure that we are not giving ANYONE an unfair advantage, which includes not disadvantaging White males just for being White males. The same rules and opportunities should apply to everyone. That is fair. Freedom should be for everyone!

But as for limiting traffic and using public transportation, if you live in a congested city, that seems reasonable. If you live in a progressive college town or leftist state, you should expect policies like these. Don’t like it? Move. We still have freedom to choose where we live. In my area, I would be very happy if they would put in more sidewalks so that people could walk safely to shopping and doctors and school. But evidently there is no requirement for landowners to do this and the state doesn’t provide them. But, good news! Looks like we are getting some of that Infrastructure money (taxpayer funds). https://www.txdot.gov/about/newsroom/statewide/texas-sidewalks-bike-lanes-to-receive-funding.html

And my last point, the hoax news website that created the false information about Oxfordshire had an agenda and they knew that they could trigger outrage in people like us who fear the rise of climate totalitarianism. Then they sit back and laugh while they rack up clicks on their website, and possibly steal your data. However, we can’t let these people make fools of us. We have to do our own fact-checking because so many articles that get passed around are full of misinformation or half-truths. If it looks outrageous, don’t believe it until you verify it with some legit news sources. If you only find the story on very cheesy looking websites, it’s probably not true. This goes for left and right topics that trigger outrage.

We have to stop giving fake news our attention because sometimes it is a distraction from what they are really doing ! And besides that, we need to be busy preparing for the many ways that the climate agenda is going to change our lives. Traffic filters will be the least of our worries if we can’t afford to drive.

What do you think about pushing people to drive less by using fees and fines? Did you fall for this fake news story? How do you decide if a story if true or not? Leave your comments below. Don’t have a WordPress account? Create one! It’s free and easy and WordPress offers many great blogs and articles.

7 comments

  1. I did hear talk about “15-minute cities,” where everything you need on a daily basis is within 15 minutes of your home, where you’re allowed to go outside that radius 3 times a month or something, but that was an idea tossed around by the climate change guys at their summits (which they fly to in their private jets 🙄) for sometime in the distant future. I wouldn’t mind having everything handy like that, but it depends on how much freedom it’ll cost us Personally, I prefer the idea of more bike paths in cities where walking is actually FASTER than driving. Biking is cleaner, healthier, more fun…

    • I do think we will eventually lose freedom as they create more and more rules and changes that are supposedly for “ saving the planet”. It’s the “great reset”.

  2. I prefer to read past headlines because the media uses blurbs and headlines to deceive and mislead. Also, walking everywhere would be wonderful. My last house was within blocks of the library, post office, grocery store, coffee shop…it was nice. But not at the expense of being forced into a ghetto via government zoning.

    • What usually happens with progressive policies like “encouraging people to drive less” is they starts out with good intentions then turns bad/corrupt. See prohibition laws, compulsory schooling, unions, literacy tests for voting, abortion on demand, etc, etc, etc.

      • Yes, very true. That’s why I went to ghettoizing. It would start with an ideal of better city planning, which sounds innocent enough, and then turn into something awful. At the very least, some neighborhoods would be just like now and would have terrible stores with limited supplies and high prices, but instead of driving 45 minutes to get tot the better one, you would have to walk 45 minutes to get to there. Maybe the walking paths would be pleasant, though.

      • Right! One thing they never address is jobs . The laptop class makes the rules. Where are other people supposed to work who don’t have laptop jobs ? Service , retail and hospitality jobs do not provide enough income to live in these walkable zones. So they’ll live outside and come there to serve the laptop class , which is already the situation. 🙄 which leads to: more rent controls and subsidies.

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