London, Brighton & Hove and Nottingham have been named the least car-dependent places in England by the Campaign for Better Transport, with Wigan edging out Peterborough and Colchester as the location where locals are most reliant on motor vehicles.
The organisation’s Car Dependency Scorecard, first publiched in 2010, this year rated 26 cities or other urban areas, generally three per region, on four criteria – accessibility and planning, buses and trains quality and uptake, cycling and walking as alternatives, and driving and car use.
London scored highly on three of those four benchmarks – the exception being cycling and walking, with the report’s authors saying that “the limited percentage of children cycling to school and adults to work reflects the potential dangers of cycling in the capital and gave a lower score in the cycling category.”
Instead, the capital’s top ranking was principally due to its extensive public transport network as well as the low levels of car ownership within Inner London.
Both Brighton & Hove and Nottingham, despite their high ranking overall, saw their scores for walking and cycling come out lower than might have been expected.
In Brighton & Hove’s case, that was due to it having the second highest rate per capita of pedestrians killed or injured in road traffic collisions, while Nottingham was singled out as having “poor access” to the city centre “by public transport or cycling.”
Unsuprisingly, Cambridge had the top score for cycling and walking, with Swindon and cities in the South West also doing well on this measure; Gateshead, where fewer than half of children walk or cycle to school, came bottom, beneath Birmingham and Bradford.
According to the Campaign for Better Transport, “The cities that ranked bottom of the table showed poor accessibility to key services and high numbers using cars to commute to work.”
It added that “the report also shows that the cities lagging at the bottom of the table do not look likely to improve in the future.
“Their travel plans place too much emphasis on road infrastructure, cheap parking, and/or placing new business parks and homes where they would generate additional car journeys and lack the foresight to suggest more cost-effective ways to improve public transport to aid every-day journeys for their residents.”
Sian Berry, Sustainable Transport Campaigner for Campaign for Better Transport, commented: “The cities that have topped our ranking show how good planning and investing in transport infrastructure can provide decent transport alternatives and reduce the number of people having to make every-day journeys by car.
“Heavy investment in transport for London 2012 is already starting to show its impact with the capital moving up to top the ranking.
“But, local authorities need to realise the most cost-effective way to reduce dependence is to invest in cheaper, more-efficient public transport and build new developments that can be accessed by cycling and public transport and which reduce the need to travel, rather than throw money at expensive road plans that in reality fail to cut congestion,” she added.
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.