THE WOMAN WHO COULDN'T STOP THE TRAFFIC
'The Woman Who Stops Traffic' didn’t this time. Channel Four TV Presenter Kris Murrin failed to follow up her success in Marlow, Buckinghamshire when Boston, Lincolnshire, blanked her in last night's programme, the second in the series.
Whereas Marlow allowed themselves to be cajoled into enjoying a car-free day cycling and walking local distances, Boston gave her the cold shoulder.
We were told Boston has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country, and more obese people per square mile than any other town. The programme showed them flab flopping and wobbling into the cars to drive the kids to school 22 minutes drive away! It was only an 11-minute walk!
But I’ve got a bad back, said one young overweight mum, failing to make the connection that sitting in a car will almost certainly make the bad back worse.
Bostonians couldn’t grasp pure logic. Told that congestion would be cut and their health improve if they walked or cycled one local trip in 10 instead of driving, they went, doh, wot?
The only thing to move Bostonians is the campaign for a bypass, but that won’t be built for another 13 years! Oh, and the recent earthquake whose epicentre was in nearby Market Rasen the other week, that moved a few of them.
Boston is famous for the Stump –otherwise known as 14th century St Botoloph’s church which can seen for miles from the across the Fens. Sadly, the people proved highly resistant to going on the stump themselves!
The only glimmer of hope came from the housing estate a mile out of town, where Murrin, entered the lion’s den – the Bingo – to tell the players of her plan. She was met with blank expressions. There were quite a few bikes around, it must be said. And we glimpsed one woman with a child seat on her bike.
Murrin set up a table outside the community centre hoping for visitors. Lots of curtain tugging. Eventually, an old guy with a baseball cap came out to tell Murrin that he’d fought in the war for the right to use his car and no “toffee nose” whatsit was going to tell him otherwise.
As the clued up lady who ran the local community centre observed to camera, the local people saw Murrin as a “candles and wine” dinner type, whereas they were beer and Bingo.
But she introduced Murrin to the “Queen” of the estate – a mum with influence, someone the neighbours looked up to and t his proved key. Together they went door knocking.
So it was, at the eleventh hour, and with the promise of breakfast to start with, a whole bunch of previously sceptical families turned out to walk or cycle to school on her car free day. It was a great turn out.
But the prophecies of market traders – many of whom were supportive and would back anything to reverse the decline in trade lost because of the congestion –came to pass. Boston people won’t leave their cars.
Murrin was struggling to win support. She had bravely taken a microphone on to the pitch before start of the home football game, to ask the supporters to give up their cars for a day. They laughed. Bad timing – it was pouring with rain.
As for that beacon of health, the hospital, employing over 2000 people, they stuck stubbornly to using their cars. The only ray of hope was a doctor, a cycling enthusiast who didn’t need to be convinced.
As for the rest, there they were, sitting in their cars, shuffling forward in the traffic jams. Perhaps they’ve come to seize upon these moments as time for quiet relaxation, meditation, perhaps, to the mantra of the engine ticking over.