Spiritual view: Make transport choices for good of all

PUBLISHED: 08:30 09 August 2020

Archdeacon of West Ham Elwin Cockett, makes a confession.

Archdeacon of West Ham Elwin Cockett, makes a confession.

Elwin Cockett

Here’s a confession: I am a petrol-head. I love fast cars and motorbikes, and I’ve owned more of them than I care to admit, from 2CVs to BMWs.

They can be incredibly useful and enjoyable but, used in the wrong place and at the wrong time, can do great damage to communities and to the environment.

It is good to have a choice whether to use a car or call a cab, or to go by Tube or bus.

Sometimes, choosing to walk or cycle may well be the best option for ourselves and for others, so long as we can do so safely and pleasantly.

That’s where “love your neighbour” comes in.

I might well find it more comfortable and more convenient to drive my car everywhere but if, in doing so, I make your road busier, your air less pleasant to breathe, and your journey that day on foot or on a bike more dangerous, then I am harming you.

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For Christians and anyone who holds to the “golden rule”, to love your neighbour is not just a nice thing to do. It’s a commandment from God.

We’re often rubbish at it, and yet it is still something that we should want to do, to avoid harming other people and to want to bless them.

So, if I can make a choice about transport that avoids harming others, I should.

Government can help, of course.

The prime minister is encouraging everyone who can to walk or cycle more, to “save the NHS” and changes are being made to roads to make both walking and cycling safer and easier.

Newham Council has lagged behind our neighbours in Waltham Forest, but we can all play a part in encouraging and welcoming such measures, even where they might inconvenience us as motorists.

We have all known for years that something had to change. Covid-19 has made it clearer.

If one good thing comes out of this dreadful pandemic, let it be that we start working together to make transport choices for the good of all, for the sake of the NHS, and for our own health. Because it’s right to “love our neighbours”.

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