£20 solution to multi billion pound transport problem

Four out of five of your local journeys should be sustainable by 2020 to help UK out of recession says Sustrans

An innovative proposal from sustainable transport charity Sustrans could solve the UK 's congestion, health and environment problems for the price of just £20 per household.

As the recession bites and the spending capacity of the public purse is stretched to the limit the charity is calling on UK governments to make smarter use of existing

transport budgets to establish a UK-wide travel behaviour change programme. The programme, which has been successfully piloted in selected cities for the past

nine years, de-bunks the myth that getting people to change the way they travel is difficult. Its results include reductions in car use by 10-14 per cent and notable

increases in walking, cycling and public transport use.

By working directly with households, schools and workplaces it gives people alternatives to car use, saving 0.9 million tonnes of carbon per year, the equivalent of

taking 300,000 cars off the road.

To bring the scheme to households in cities across the UK would cost £370 million. This is a fraction of the price we currently pay for the way we move around,

the cost to the economy of congestion and obesity is set to top £34 billion per year by 2020. And its benefit to cost ratio is nearly 8:1, compared to many road-building

schemes that have a ratio of 2:1 or less.

The proposal is part of a call to action that Sustrans is making to UK governments to invest in doubling the number of journeys under five miles made by foot,

bike and public transport to four out of five by 2020.

Peter Lipman, Sustrans Policy Director says: "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 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. 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 per cent of those asked were in favour of transport policies that support walking, cycling and public transport even if these disadvantage the private car".

Sustrans' call to action (insert link to docs on website) outlines the ways to get more people walking, cycling and using public transport:

  • Encourage people to change their travel behaviour

  • Create safe, attractive walking and cycling conditions

  • Increase public transport usage by improving and integrating services and reducing fares

  • Ensure that planning policy and practice reduce the need to travel

  • Reform taxation and increase spending on sustainable travel

Over the coming months the charity will be using its call to action to target decision makers in central and local governments across the UK.

Source: Sustrans