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British and Irish cities come bottom of Europe's Car Dependency Scorecard

Only Rome scores lower than the capitals of home nations and Republic of Ireland, finds study

London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and Dublin are amongst the most car dependent in Europee. The four capital cities of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom plus Dublin in the Republic of Ireland are among the worst of 13 major European cities surveyed by the Campaign for Better Transport Car for its Car Dependency Scorecard 2011. Only Rome, in 13th position, was found to have more reliance on the motor car than London, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh and Belfast, which respectively occupied 8th to 12th place.

The scorecard ranks cities on 16 indicators grouped into five main areas – car use, public transport service, public transport cost, side effects of car use and cycling/walking – with each indicator ranked individually then combined with the others to provide an overall score.

Stockholm emerged as the least car-dependent city of the capitals surveyed – Copenhagen, for the record, wasn’t among those studied – scoring well on all indicators other than the cost of public transport. The modal share of walking and cycling was said to be particularly high despite the city’s poor climate in winter.

The Swedish capital was followed by Helsinki, Prague,
Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam
and Madrid on the list.

At the other end of the scale, the cost of public transport was the one issue on which Rome scored highly, although the network itself, and issues with reliability and coverage, among others, dragged it down. The Italian capital was said to have a particularly poor record for road safety.

The cost of public transport in London, plus poor air quality and levels of congestion, contributed to the city’s poor performance and are expected to be topics that feature in the mayoral elections next year.

While cycling was seen as an alternative mode of transport in all the UK cities surveyed, the study’s compilers said that uptake was low and singled out air pollution, the expense and low uptake of public transport and levels of congestion as factors behind their low ranking.

On the positive side, London scored well for low car ownership, Edinburgh for journeys on foot, Cardiff for road safety and Edinburgh for passenger satisfaction with public transport.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport’s chief executive, comented: “Car dependency damages communities, affects our quality of life and has huge environmental consequences, so the UK cities’ poor standing should be of major concern to politicians.

“To catch up with the best in Europe the UK Governments need to recognise the economic benefits of good air quality and road safety, and ensure public transport, walking and cycling are comparable to car use in terms of cost, journey time and quality.”

The organisation outlined a umber of steps it believed UK governments should take to address the problem, but pointed out that currently, cuts to local bus networks have left many people without local transport and that train fare increases above the rate of inflation will prevent others from using that form of transport.

The recommended measures are:

  • Making public transport fares affordable, with smart cards valid on different modes and operators

  • Improving public transport journey times through bus priority, and investment in trams where appropriate

  • Giving pedestrians and cyclists real priority over other vehicle traffic, including at junctions

  • Supporting a good public transport network during off peak times, including evenings and weekends

  • Recognising the wider factors which affect car dependency, such as planning regulations.


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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niceguysean@gma... | 12 years ago

Thanks for this.
I live and cycle daily in Rome, and am not at all surprised by the conclusion of this report, it is sadly all too true. Rome suffers from a weak political will to do anything, and Roman's in general just shrug their shoulders and say "what can you do, it's Rome". Double and even triple parking is common, bus lanes are often full of parked cars, as are the pavements, and few fines are handed out due to both corruption and bad organisation. The result is that buses are slow because the bus lanes are blocked, people use their cars because the risk of a fine is low, and overall their is no plan to change this.

I've attached a photo, whoch show the vehicles blocking my view as I turn left out of my office every night. This is just a small example of what it's like to cycle in Rome!

This year for the first year (I've been here 17)I have seen more people cycling, but it's a slow change.

Hopefully this report might wake up some of the politicians and the public to finally do something!


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