The news today that the Mayor of Paris is banning ALL tour buses from operating within the capital, as well as placing a strict cap on motorcycle/scooter delivery operators is a welcome step for at least one European city. It will be interesting to see whether the Mayor of London will find it within himself to similarly put a bar on the horrendous shoals of 'sightseeing tours' thronging the capital's streets along with touts competing for customers at landmark stops. Quite apart from London now becoming the 'stab capital' of the UK, if not Europe, its image as an attractive place to visit has been severely dented over the past decade. The levels of pollution, principally from road traffic of all varieties, excepting pedestrians and cyclists, are such that health warnings are in place at schools, offices and residential structures in proximity to certain traffic snarled streets. The pace of traffic flow is now slower than it was in Roman times.
Below : Blackpool Transport's solitary open top sightseeing bus - thankfully unique on the promenade and rarely used.
So the lessons from Paris are something to take to heart and institute similar bold actions here. Oxford is another English city/town with exceptional traffic and pollution problems now exacerbated by the ever higher volumes of tourism ebbing and flowing through a congested 14th century town plan. The numbers of lumbering, noisome, polluting tourist buses filling narrow arteries is now deterrent to any quality visitor experience. Add to this the ever present Park and Ride buses (from two sites); London and Airport bound express services combined with Oxford area bus routes - and you get the picture. Its not a nice one.
Blackpool is fortunate in having not only electric trams rumbling up and down its main tourist frontage, but the clip clop of horse drawn landau whose polluting habits are constrained and confined these days to special containers affixed to the motive power ! Cycling in Blackpool is possible but not necessarily safe whilst crossing the Promenade for visitors in particular can be an exercise in simple luck. There are plenty of Blackpool buses idling their way along parts of the central promenade to and from local destinations, with just two services running at discrete intervals to add to the delights and efficiencies of the trams. Blackpool's taxis - many in number, are not necessarily of the latest standards as far as air pollution is concerned but the drivers are friendly (for the most part) and offer safe travel for those brave enough to take on the town centre at night.
So the City of Light has seen the light and is banning its tourist bus fleets in line with the opposition from historic cities like Venice to the intrusive and wholly out of scale cruising businesses intent on sending floating skyscrapers alongside heritage waterfronts. Global warming is with us and set to get much harsher. I'm glad Blackpool has kept its trams and horsedrawn carriages.