Is anyone else bored of Mini Holland? I don’t mean the scheme its self, I mean the continual, never-ending arguments that rage around it. Its like some kind of stretched out story line on Eastenders. The kind of soap plot that starts in January and continues all year, finally reaching its dramatic climax on the Christmas Special. Trouble is, by the time it gets to the big reveal, you are so bored of the story you just don’t care any more. I don’t care who killed Lucy Beale, I don’t care who walks, cycles or drives, I just want to hear the duff duffs and get the whole thing over with. Of course, that’s not entirely true, I do care what happens in Walthamstow and the wider borough, but I really want the credits to roll on the arguing and nonsense that surrounds Mini Holland. I’m bored of being forced to choose a side. I’m bored of being defined by the method of transport I happen to be using at the time. I’m bored because the Mini Holland debate is going around in circles and getting nowhere fast.
There’s no shortage of people who will tell you which problems the scheme fixes. There’s also no shortage of people who will tell you all about the problems the scheme causes. I hear it’s all good, and I hear it’s all bad, but no group can really present a balanced view. Fault is placed at the feet of all sorts of groups. Nutcase drivers are to blame, no wait, the cycling Taliban are to blame. No, that’s not right either, it’s the councils fault, or the people doing the school run, or transport for London, or Boris Johnston. And why the Hell isn’t Stella Creasy fixing this! Take a photo of a busy road and stick it on Facebook to prove Mini Holland is terrible. Take a photo of a quiet road and post that to Facebook to prove it works. Shout, argue, post and protest, but don’t do the one thing that could bring a resolution, talk to each other.
You see, the real problem with Mini Holland isn’t the scheme at all, the real problem is our collective inability to talk, listen and compromise. The general perception is that there are two camps, two sides in this debate, those for the scheme, and those against. Each shouts with loud voices, and neither likes criticism. If you criticise Mini Holland, those who are for the scheme will waste no time telling you how wrong you are. If you come out in favour of any part of the scheme, the anti lobby will shut you down and stop listening. I’m writing from experience here, I once stated on twitter that I didn’t like Copenhagen crossings, a supporter of the scheme told me that was my problem because I was too stupid to cross a road safely. On the occasions where I have said anything in favour, I have been sworn at and insulted. This behaviour is indicative of the problem we face, neither camp is willing to recognise that the other has valid points, neither is willing to compromise, and Walthamstow is loosing out as a result.
In reality of course, there are not just two camps, there are lots of people like me, people who just want a sensible approach to Mini Holland. People who want to be able to challenge opinions and have a balanced discussion without being shouted down. The vocal sides of the debate both claim to represent the majority of Walthamstow, but because neither will compromise, neither side truly represents the community they claim to. If the two sides of this debate really want to make a difference, they need to stop waging a war with each other, and instead find a way of working together to deliver workable solutions. In my opinion, this is something we can all do, instead of telling people their opinion is wrong, why don’t we try to understand differing opinions and suggest sensible solutions. There are good points and bad points to this scheme, we need to be grown up enough to recognise both. At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure we all want safer roads, less traffic and cleaner air, the one and only way we are going to get something that really works, is to stop the nonsense and start working together.