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Ditching the car is good for you and the planet

<span>Photograph: William Barton/Alamy</span>
Photograph: William Barton/Alamy

Yvette Caster’s candid account (Why I quit complaining about cyclists, scrapped my car and chose public transport, 27 November) of her response to cyclists is a lesson the nation needs to learn – that the large majority who drive cars are far too many for the space on roads in this already overcrowded island, and that abandoning the car is both feasible and a road to a much better life, for oneself and humanity.

My wife and I returned to Britain on retirement in 2010 and decided, in response to the climate crisis, to try one year without a car, and without flying. We have neither driven nor flown since: we found the change of lifestyle just as beneficial as Caster has, and good for our health as well as the planet’s.

Within the village we mostly walk, sometimes cycle. At 81 years old, I now deliberately go for a walk almost daily, typically around 45 minutes, and feel fine. The nearest town is easily accessed by bus, helped by knowing the timetable.

Scientists have told us repeatedly that we need to stop using mined fuel now if we wish to leave a habitable world for our children and grandchildren. Stories of the 45C already being experienced in other parts of the world are a timely warning. Giving up the car can be a fine response.
Richard Vernon
Iffley, Oxford

• I would love to meet Yvette Caster on a bus and have a chat, but I am very glad that I didn’t meet her on the road in 2015. I’m glad that she has swept the anti-cyclist sentiment from her life, and hope that more and more people do the same.

As my friends and I cycled along a single-track road with passing places this morning, a car behind us hooted. The charitable explanation was that he was just telling us that he was there, but more likely is he wanted us out of his way. When the road widened he sped past, revving his engine to make some sort of point. I am still cycling at age 77 and have long campaigned for safe cycling. I no longer feel safe cycling alone, so I always ride with a group as we regularly encounter car drivers who are inconsiderate and often dangerous. But I don’t now need to tell Yvette that, as she will have seen plenty of driver behaviour from the buses that she now uses.
Pam Ashton
Formby, Merseyside

• I thoroughly enjoyed Yvette Caster’s article. I so respect people who can change their minds – we need more of them. I recently led a focus group on reducing cycling fatalities in the US. After 42 ideas, narrowed to four, then three and finally a “lightbulb” consensus solution, we uncovered what I’m calling the “ghostbike paradox”.

Cyclists feel that around 1,000 fatalities per year in the US is a travesty, while motorists and legislators feel that the 2% of 43,000 highway fatalities that involve cyclists is sad but statistically insignificant. This paradox continues to pit both sides against each other.
Rick Griggs
Fort Collins, Colorado, US

• I welcome Yvette Caster’s decision to recant her anti-cyclist views. I also hope she follows up on her plan to try cycling, and she may discover exactly why so many of us “wear Lycra”.

Once she has experienced the chafing caused by jeans, or the uncomfortably sweat-sodden T-shirt, she might understand that technical fabrics and specifically designed cycling clothing could make an important contribution to the comfort of her ride. Nevertheless, welcome to the bright side, Yvette.
David Joss Buckley
President, Dulwich Paragon Cycling Club, London

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