Improving the environment to promote active travel and reduce car-dependency

The increase in active travel during lockdown shows there is suppressed demand. Transport and spatial planning that promotes diversity of destinations within shorter distances, to facilitate active travel; a presumption against private car use as the default; and better information about travel options would all help. The traditional transport mode hierarchy is being inverted by many local and regional transport authorities, with pedestrians at the top and single occupancy car use at the bottom. What is needed now is for funding to match this. At the moment, huge budgets go on road widening and building, despite the good evidence that all this does in a saturated system is release suppressed demand and move the ‘pinchpoints’ to before and after the new/wider roads. Meanwhile, the level of funding nationally and locally to support active travel is miniscule. Around £20 per head per year is needed – easily funded by diverting the road budget to environmentally sustainable travel modes, greening streets, and making life better for everyone. This would also reduce inequalities in access and in health. Those who truly need individual motor vehicles would benefit from less congestion.




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