Is a Checker Cab a sign of freedom? Absolutely yes, the Checker is a perfect example of the American right to freely move about the country. If you have the fare, a Checker could take you anywhere you want to go in the US. There have been many stories of people hailing a cab in New York City to drive to Chicago or Los Angeles. A perfect example of the right to freely move about the country.
This past weekend a group of British protesters used a Checker Cab to showcase their fight against Low Traffic Neighborhoods. What’s a Low Traffic Neighborhood (LTN). All across the UK and Europe local governments are setting up LTNs to stop or impede the free flow of traffic.
LTNs can be implemented through the use of barriers such as bollards, boom barriers and planters, though can also be implemented virtually through the use of automatic number-plate recognition cameras and road signs, which can allow residential motor access while prohibiting passing motor traffic.
There is evidence to show that LTNs lead to a decrease in car use, increase in walking and cycling and a decrease in street crime, violent crime and sexual assaults
Sounds great, but at what price? The price of freedom? As one would expect, LTNs are controversial as they clearly impede the free movement of people, at the direction of government bureaucrats. They appear to be arbitrary and clearly do not allow for equal protection under the law. Some folks can drive on the public streets while other are prohibited.
As one would expect, as these LTNs are established, there is significant public outcry and protest. Yesterday ICTA member Salvatore Di Bernardo protested the establishment of an LTN in Haringay, UK. According to Salvatore:
“I have never been to a protest and thought I’d never have to, but what this council is doing to all of us in this part of Haringay is disgusting I’ve lived in this area all my life I know these streets like the back of my hand and to be told I cannot drive down them anymore is one thing but to slowly suffocate me and all the people who live on the boundary roads of this so called Low Traffic Neighbourhood is another! I hope Haringey see sense and stop this s%#$”
Based on photographs the protest was large and more importantly a Checker Cab was the centerpiece of the protest. The car was used as a backdrop, clearly as a sign of freedom of movement. Placards were placed on the Checker that read Take Back Democracy.
We at the ICTA wish Salvatore good luck in his fight. We also are thankful that here in the US, LTN efforts are largely considered illegal. The 14th amendment to the Constitution provides US citizens with the right to travel without license. Local US governments can set up barriers for safety, but these efforts are limited and more importantly are typically required to be approved by city councils and public notice.
Photos by Salvatore Di Bernardo