Posts Tagged 'sustainability'

The importance of creating space for walking and cycling

Dave Horton

Dave Horton

by Dave Horton, co-author of Promoting walking and cycling: New perspectives on sustainable travel

Serious and sustained promotion of walking and cycling would transform our everyday lives. The streets where we live, the journeys we make, the places we go – all would become steadily more full of people and less full of cars. It’s a compelling vision, and an easily obtainable one – if policy and practice starts, then continues, to prioritise walking and cycling above the car as means of making short trips in urban areas.

Many people like cycling but ride only when they consider it safe, easy and convenient. When urban space is re-organised away from the car and towards people, including people riding bicycles, people will walk and cycle far more of their short journeys, journeys which although they’d rather not, they often currently make by car. The scale of the changes required to achieve this revolution in everyday transport exceeds what’s being done in most places in most of the world so far, but there are places where walking and cycling have been made easier than driving, places which provide insight and inspiration.

Cities across the globe are pushing cars from their centres, creating space for people to walk and cycle and enhancing quality of life. And through serious, sustained investment in the bicycle as the best means of local transport, the Netherlands has become the world’s most cycle-friendly country. What’s been done there can be done everywhere; but it requires political vision and commitment. Everyday life based around bicycles instead of cars would build a happier, healthier society and benefit everyone, including those who don’t cycle.

Promoting walking and cycling: New perspectives on sustainable travel explains why more people don’t make more of their journeys on foot and by cycle, and sets out what needs to change for them to do so. Many people want life less dominated by cars; this is how we get there.

Promoting walking and cycling by Colin G Pooley, with Tim Jones, Miles Tight, Dave Horton, Griet Scheldeman, Caroline Mullen, Ann Jopson and Emanuele Strano is publishing on 21 August. Order your copy here with 20% discount.

Public transport – an update

Well, the end of November has come and gone, and, miraculously, we still have a bus service through my village!!

In some respects, I am heartened by this as an example of how ‘people power’ can have an effect, with many passengers signing our petition, and, probably more importantly, individually expressing their dissatisfaction to the bus company, local authority, parish council and local MP.

Depressingly, though, it appears that political machinations may also have had a part to play, as only a couple of days after the announcement of the revision of the planned ‘service changes’, which arose as a result of a meeting between the local authority’s transport committee representative and the bus company, plans for a 2-year study to consider the feasibility of an Integrated Transport Authority for the Greater Bristol area were also dramatically thrown out, by the same transport committee representative and his counterparts in the other two unitary authorities that surround Bristol. Could it be that compromises to the planned cuts were offered as a bargaining chip by the bus company to counteract the prospect of a severe curtailment in its power and influence in the future under an ITA? (There was also a strong rumour that another operator had expressed an interest in providing buses along an extended route which would have represented better service and better value for money for passengers.)

What was particularly noticeable, in the immediate aftermath of the decision, was the alacrity with which the latest changes to the services were publicised – all of the players scrambling to take maximum credit for ‘a creative solution to this problem’ on their websites and in the local press – a striking contrast indeed to the silence surrounding the original proposals …

Jo Morton
Production Editor, The Policy Press

Traffic jam: Ten years of ’sustainable’ transport in the UK – A timely analysis of the UK government’s sustainable transport policy 10 years after the publication of A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone.

Public transport – where is the ‘service’?

This is my very first blog ever, but I’ve been pushed onto my virtual soapbox by an insidious movement by a certain bus operator that has a near-monopoly on public transport in the region to cut all the commuter services to and from my village into Bristol, and to do so without consultation and with minimal publicity (the notice about withdrawal of these services was hidden away in a flyer and on their website, buried deep among a long list of (mostly minor) ‘service changes’).

And if, despite the bus company’s best efforts, passengers do actually get to hear that these services are to be axed, does the company respond to letters and emails of protest or requests for an explanation of the reasoning behind the decision? It’s now 14 days since I first contacted them, and I am still waiting … and the experience of my fellow passengers seems to be depressingly similar.

Am I being cynical, or is there a deliberate strategy of non-communication here? Why expend time and effort answering correspondence about a service you don’t wish to continue to provide, especially when you deduce that most users will still continue to swell your coffers as they are forced to use the more inconvenient alternatives (at the same cost, or greater) also provided by yourselves? (The only other possibility being to abandon public transport (and any green credentials) to join the miserable shuffle nose-to-tail down the ‘single occupancy’ lane into Bristol.)

This failure to provide effective public transport services that meet local demand is a situation that has been created by government policy, and one in which the local councils collude by awarding contracts to the large, national operators on the basis of low costs rather than the guarantee of service to local taxpayers.

In the meantime, all I can say is: bring on an Integrated Transport Authority for the Greater Bristol Area operating under a Quality Contract that would allow the authority, rather than a self serving private contractor, to determine what services are to be run, on which routes and how often.

Jo Morton
Production Editor, The Policy Press – while I can still get in to do the job(!)

Traffic jam: Ten years of ‘sustainable’ transport in the UK – A timely analysis of the UK government’s sustainable transport policy 10 years after the publication of A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone.

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