Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review: Do Humans Dream of Electric Cars?

This booklet, full title "Do Humans Dream of Electric Cars?: Your Journey to Sustainable Travel" has been published by Sustrans - the UK's leading sustainable transport charity who are most famous for the National Cycle Network which criss-crosses the country. I should confess now that I'm a member of Sustrans and was until recently a Volunteer Ranger for a couple of miles of that network.

The booklet is laid out in what I call a Purple Ronnie style - informal cartoons, handwritten comments and a deliberate mish-mash of text fonts. I'm not a big fan of this sort of thing personally, but on a climate change communication programme I worked on, it came out as the favoured style with the general public, so what do I know?!

The whole book is obviously designed to be accessible, lightweight, thought provoking - something to dip into in the dentist's waiting room - and it works. There are no real surprises in terms of content - walking, cycling, lift sharing, public transport, car clubs - but the polemic against offsetting seemed slightly out of place (I think a charity should be more even handed). While the booklet does encourage the reader to campaign for low-transport planning like local shops and services, I saw nothing about more distributed work practices. Working from home will not only cut commuting, but support those local services - the evaporation of local shops has as much to do with consumer preference as it does your local planning department.

So, in summary, fresh and light, something to stimulate the uninitiated rather than inform the hardened eco-liver.

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