Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, says that by the end of the decade, people should be seeking to make four in five local journeys by sustainable means, and has outlined to the politicians the way it believes that can be done at a cost of just £20 per household.
According to the Bristol-based organisation, to roll out a travel behaviour programme, similar to one that has been piloted in nine cities and towns including Worcester over the last nine years, across the UK would cost £370 million. Sustrans says that amount pales into insignificance compared to the cost to the nation of traffic congestion and healthcare costs as a result of obesity, which is says will amount to more than £34 billion by 2020. As a result, it is calling on governments and councils throughout Britain to better allocate transport budgets to help meet its targets.
Sustrans says that pilot schemes have seen a reduction in car use of between 10% and 14% and have resulted in more people cycling, walking or using public transport to undertake local journeys. It adds there is also an environmental benefit, saying that if the scheme were expanded nationwide, it could save some 0.9 million tonnes of carbon annually, which equates to removing 300,000 cars from the road. Sustrans claims that the initiative would have a benefit to cost ratio of eight to one, compared to the two to one, or even less, associated with road-building schemes.
According to Sustrans Policy Drector Peter Lipman, "A 'perfect storm' of massive cuts in public spending, rising congestion costs and soaring health bills from obesity could overwhelm transport priorities unless action is taken. Traffic levels and congestion are projected to continue rising over the next decade, meanwhile significant reductions in transport spending will place severe pressure on transport budgets and make large schemes unaffordable. We have already seen the cancellation of the £1bn M4 relief road in Wales due to lack of funds and so cheaper alternatives to large road building schemes are needed.
"But a different approach could make a radical difference,” he continued. “We currently make two out of every five local journeys by bike, on foot and by public transport - we believe it is possible, and necessary, to double that figure to four out of five. And it is achievable as the majority of local car journeys are less than five miles. The solutions are there and cycling to school, walking to work, having affordable public transport are a start but we need governments to take action to make these options more widely available.”
Mr Lipman continued: ‘What's currently lacking is real political will and a sense of urgency and we believe that people
would support their politicians since they want change too. Our research tells us that up to 95% of those asked were in favour of transport policies that support walking, cycling and public transport even if these disadvantage the private car."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.