IF there's one thing that gives honest citizens the collywobbles, it's talk of cutting car use.

Yesterday, Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken announced that Glasgow city centre will become pedestrianised. A large section of the heart of Glasgow will be redesigned to make more space for people walking; to create safer routes for people wheeling and cycling; to cut congestion and lower carbon emissions; to make public transport faster and more efficient; and to create a welcoming, green city centre space.

The main takeaway, though, was "What?! But our cars!" Yes, private vehicles will be removed - though provisions made for people with disabilities - but so much more will be added.

Let's play a quick game. I'll call it "Then or Now".

In response to changes to road changes, a reader of The Herald wrote thus in our letter's page: "I am amazed and horrified at what is happening regarding traffic management throughout Glasgow." Then or now? This was 2000.

Another letter to the editor reflects on the impact of a new bus gate in the city centre. "There will be a loss of a great number of jobs and subsequent reduction in the commercial rate income to Glasgow City Council." Then or now? Again, 2000. Written by a business owner whose shop, 21 years later, is still there. As is the bus gate.

Victoria Road, on Glasgow's South Side, has been undergoing multiple traffic transformations. "Drivers, local businesses and motoring organisations condemned the moves as ill-conceived and poorly executed," was reported in this paper. Then or now? July 1997, in response to a new traffic system.

The road is also, now, part of a £6.5 million cycle lane scheme called the South City Way, which has also been subjected to hearty nay-saying.

Speaking of cycle lanes, a reader writes: "Cycle lanes: Where is the mandate for this agenda? How much money has been spent on them throughout the city? Does the council seriously expect a significant number of people to start cycling to work?" Then or now? Answer: June 2000.

"See an integrated transport strategy? Not in Glasgow you won't!" Then or now? Letter to The Herald from June 2000.

''The Labour Administration both in Holyrood and Glasgow'' are ''addressing the need for a fully integrated transport system'." The clue's there in the line - it's 2000. Change the administration and 21 years later we're still there.

A letter writer with whom I cannot argue tells this paper: "Instead of complaining that ''anti-car'' policies are unfair, we should all look at ourselves. Dare I suggest that many consider public transport to be for poor people, cycling for fitness freaks, and walking for recreation only?" You'll have guessed - it's then. Or 1999, to be precise.

What about this: "We all know that cyclists, whether on path, road or common, have a sense of absolute entitlement to do whatever they want to do." Then or now? This week, actually. Judge Alan Saggerson at Central London country court granting an appeal. Cheers guv.

How about this one? "I've only spoken to three people who back it - one doesn't drive a car and one is an environmentalist." That's now, a Glasgow west end resident in response to new parking restrictions posed for north Kelvin and north Woodside where around 2000 residents have signed a petition against them.

People feel penalised when they can't park outside their homes for free. In this instance the permits cost £85 for residential properties, which isn't a punitive sum when you’ve probably paid upwards of £300k for your home, and it's possible to buy visitor permits at £2 for four hours if you have friends come to visit.

So, a nuisance but manageable.

In all the above cases, the situation 20 years ago mimicked situations now. Reactions were similarly scornful, frustrated or outraged and yet the predicted falling of sky never occurred.

Victoria Road is not dead. It suffered a decline that had very little to do with nearby streets becoming one-way and it is now undergoing a renaissance, despite a new bike lane and floating bus stops.

People are well able to travel to work in the city centre, there is not increased congestion and yes, some of the one-way systems are a bit surprising, but don't we all navigate them smoothly now.

The mass love affair with our cars continues because of another problem that has barely changed in the past two decades - a lack of a properly integrated public transport system.

In London this week two British Airways and Virgin Atlantic aeroplanes took off simultaneously at Heathrow to mark the reopening of US borders to leisure travellers since Covid-19 closed borders in March 2020.

On one hand, you appreciate their enthusiasm after an agonising 18 months apart for many friends and families, alongside the significant loss of trade for the industry; on the other hand it seemed a tone deaf clanger during COP26.

Up the road in Glasgow, folk were just asking for a joined up local transport system. If a one-size-fits-all travel ticket can be magicked up for COP26 delegates then it can be sorted out after years of pleading by Greater Glasgow residents.

If concerns still exist that not being able to drive to George Square will kill the city centre then maybe we need to look at the parking options at out of town malls.

Do we start charging people for parking at car-centric shopping centres? We certainly have to make public transport more accessible. My mother lives an eight minute drive from Glasgow Fort but there's no way to get there by public transport.

I live 20 minutes away by car at the other side of the city but there's a bus taking me directly there. That's nonsensical and won't be an isolated example, given our profit-before-people transport system.

To get people out of their cars we have to offer them real alternatives that won't hugely inconvenience them. The absolutely frustrating thing is that this isn't in any way a new observation either.

Two Jags John Prescott announced at COP26 this week he's given up his cars, sold all his Jaguars. I sense a swizz afoot here. The former deputy prime minister, famous for his gas-guzzling vehicle addiction, claims to be keen to cut his carbon emissions but, at the age of 83, he's perhaps decided to slow down as much as anything.

Sort out public transport and make cycling safer and more attractive. It's so simple and yet will we still be here, in 2042, playing the same game? Then or now, or when?