The answer lies in creating safer routes to school

HOW would you feel if it cost you five pounds to take your car into or through Cardiff city centre?

In London, Ken Livingstone's "congestion charge" appears to have been a success.
Before the charge the average speed of traffic in Central London was actually slower than it had been a century earlier when there were no cars.

The congestion charge has reduced traffic and it has also had the more than welcome effect of speeding things up appreciably.

Now the Government is looking to spread the approach across the country.

And one MP has argued that off-road four-by-four vehicles should be banned from the "school run".

The fashion for these vehicles has spread from America. Often the only "off-road" action they see is when they are parked with one side of wheels up on the kerb outside schools.

In this country the "school run" contributes to a large proportion of rush-hour traffic. You only have to drive to work in school holidays to see the difference.

A generation ago, most children walked to school.

It was healthier and safer, despite parents' fears.

Go to almost any primary school in Cardiff and you will see what I mean.

Parents park illegally picking up their children from school, teaching them bad habits and polluting the atmosphere.

Should we be surprised that asthma is at record levels and that this generation of children is the most unfit and obese in history?

It is not an easy issue for politicians to tackle because, as the fuel protests of 2000 showed, the car is the people's prized possession.

The answer lies in creating safer routes to school, but also in improving school transport.
It is also disgraceful that we transport our children to school in some of the oldest and worst buses on the road.

What is needed is a proper school bus scheme for all primary school children, free for those living more than two miles from school, and subsidised for those living nearer.

Each child would have a season ticket and, in addition, a designated seat with seatbelts.

The investment would be worthwhile in reducing congestion, pollution and accidents.
If congestion charges were introduced in city centres, funding a school bus scheme would be better use of the proceeds.