Sunday, 27 January 2008

Juniper goes

Tony Juniper is standing down as Director of Friends of the Earth.

When I took over running the organisation in March 2003, the annual budget had risen to £11million and the 170 staff were professional, organised and focused.

In that case, why are conditions for cyclists and pedestrians in Britain so crappy? At a national level both walking and cycling are in decline. FoE was once a radical, campaigning organisation which even managed to persuade the Thatcher government to introduce that revolutionary European concept known as ‘traffic calming’.

Under Juniper’s leadership Friends of the Earth has, as far as I’m aware, been silent about the increasing marginalization of walking and cycling:

• Between 1995/97 and 2006, the average time people spent travelling increased by 4 per cent to 383 hours per person per year. • Over this period, the average amount of time spent travelling by car increased by 4 per cent to 232 hours and the time spent walking decreased by 8 per cent to 67 hours. • In 2006, travel by car accounted for 60 per cent of time spent travelling, the same as in 1995/97. Over the same period, the proportion of time spent walking has fallen from 20 to 17 per cent.


Over the years, I have learned to be more pragmatic. I still want to change society and politics. But there isn't now time enough to alter the fundamentals. So, instead of trying to reform the system, I have led Friends Of The Earth towards trying to change the way we live within the system.

I can’t say I’ve noticed that this has strategy has brought any benefits for cyclists or pedestrians. And it's a bit rich of Juniper to accuse jet-setting celebrities of hypocrisy when the same charge can be laid against him.