AA wants more cycling but say traffic-calming measures could increase CO2 emissions

AA thinks congestion can be eased through cycling

by Kevin Emery   September 9, 2009  

Traffic Jam in Croydon Pic: Chris McKenna

Many traffic-calming measures have been put in place in various cities around the country to try and get more people cycling for the benefit of their health and to help the environment. But the AA said this week that such measures could actually be increasing C02 emissions.

That was the view of AA president Edmund King at an energy, environment and transport forum in London this week. The AA thinks congestion can be eased through simpler means, like encouraging cycling and introducing more efficiently phased traffic lights.

Improving the fuel efficiency of cars may be more effective at cutting carbon emissions than ‘grandiose projects’ like the London Congestion Charge, said King, who also warned that some 20mph zones are being introduced without a proper assessment of their impact on CO2 emissions.

King said: “If we are smart about urban transport we can reduce CO2 and congestion without spending millions. Congestion and CO2 can be reduced by improving traffic flow through co-ordination of road works, phasing of lights and good parking policy.

“If we continually obstruct traffic with excessive traffic calming, we will increase congestion and CO2. New technology to improve fuel efficiency will be the biggest contribution to reducing CO2 from road transport.'

New 20mph speed limits have recently been introduced in parts of Oxford and Bristol to improve road safety an encourage cycling and walking in both cities, as well as reduce the number and severity of accidents, while places such as Leicester, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Islington and Glasgow all have a default 20mph limit.

Councillor Jon Rogers, Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability, said of the scheme in Bristol: “We will be monitoring the effects of the 20mph areas in a number of ways, including emissions and noise pollution. The other criteria will be road safety and injuries, speeds, resident feedback, levels of cycling and walking before and after.”