« | Home | »

In the Smog

Tags: | |

In mid-March, on the weekend that France played Ireland at the Stade de France (the reason I was in Paris), the city authorities made public transport free. This was because of the air pollution, which was bad despite the skies that were clear and blue. The mayor had hoped that Parisians would give up on their cars and travel instead by Metro, tram or bus. I don’t know Paris well enough to guess whether there were fewer cars that weekend or not, but the streets on those ideal spring days didn’t seem any less packed with traffic. Still, there’s nothing like the idea of free transport – the thought you could go anywhere, despite there being people to see, and places to be, such as the Stade de France at five.

You wonder what would happen were Boris Johnson to consider the same thing, what with the London air, like the air over much of Southern England today, spiked with Saharan dust. A meteorologist at Reading University explains that the dust from the desert helps to concentrate the pollution from traffic, so it’s a double whammy. You can see the smog, and feel it in your lungs. In Regent’s Park at 7.30 this morning there were many fewer runners than usual; people had heeded the health warnings about exerting yourself in the dust. Others obviously hadn’t; for example, the cycling fanatics known as Mamils – that’s ‘middle-aged-men-in-lycra’ – who treat the city’s roads as their velodrome. There were plenty of them on the streets of London today. Even in the middle of Regent’s Park you could hear the unmistakable noise of road traffic, despite its contribution to the smog all about, and you can wonder how any government will ever get people to leave their cars behind.

Comments are closed.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • semitone on ‘I promise that I will do my best’: I read this post, after a long absence from reading the lrb blog, in my car while my two sons (eight and ten) played strenuous, interesting, complicat...
    • Eli Zaretsky on The Mass Psychology of Trumpism: The Freudian concept of identification is helpful here. Identification is unconscious and is something quite different from imitation. "Willed ignoran...
    • Jeremy Harding on Who killed Maurice Audin?: Who killed Mehdi Ben Barka in 1965? Good question. One of the best answers came from Stephen Smith, in Le Monde in 2001. Smith is an LRB contributor. ...
    • Eli Zaretsky on The Mass Psychology of Trumpism: yes, excellent point, however, there are different ways to constitute a "volk." Trump's followers constitute a volk, and its basis is not the US "volk...
    • heinz suenker on The Mass Psychology of Trumpism: thanks for the idea to bring adorno in - showing his contemporary relevance. I think what has to be added is his idea about the 'volksgemeinschaft' - ...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement
Advertisement