Panic On The Streets Of London

 by Martin Belam, 13 September 2005

As I got home this evening panic buying of petrol in Walthamstow had begun.

The queue at my local petrol station

A bus swerves into the opposite lane to get past the queue    A car waits in vain to turn right - nobody lets them in

As a non-driver myself I can't tell you whether it was the threat of the £1 litre, upcoming blockades that are not apparently happening, the fear that American oil consumption would leap following Hurricane Katrina, or that fact that two of our national newspapers today said "Please don't panic buy" that started it off.

The Daily Express urges against panic buying, whilst whipping up the storm

The Mirror also urges against panic buying

I do know two things for certain though:

1) Not one of the queuing motorists I passed on the way home had switched off their engines to reduce consumption whilst sitting in a queue that was at least forty cars deep.

2) I'm going to have to walk to the station tomorrow - I don't anticipate the queues will subside, and the Walthamstow Bike Shed is badly timed to be out of action for a couple of days whilst the electronics are looked at.

The queue at my local petrol station

As a Londoner it's pretty weird to think that bombs on public transport couldn't grind my city to a halt, but panic buying of petrol looks like it can do the trick.


Panic buying brought London to a standstill during the last fuel protests. My then-gf spent 30 mins queueing for petrol.

At least when I queue for petrol, I switch the engine off.

Gawd knows what happens when the great switchoff happens.

As a mathematician, I know that a £5 a gallon is equivalent to £1.10 a litre, still a fair way off, despite what the mirror says.

Um, I thought a petrol engine consumes much more fuel in the ignition phase than when idling? (i.e. turning it on and off the whole time will consume more fuel overall than just sitting there with it on)

How many people missed that reference to 'The Clash'

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