Last week deputy prime minister John Prescott promised comprehensive new environmental measures to help make Europe 'greener' during the six-month UK Presidency. Backing for the Road Traffic Reduction (UK Targets) Bill would demonstrate the Government's environmental commitment as well as showing European leadership by example.
Drawing on examples from Britain and abroad, the report shows that policies to promote trains, buses, bikes and walking and to restrain car and lorry use have led to real reductions in traffic levels.
The report looks at a wide-range of policy initiatives and suggests that:
- 'green commuter plans' could cut car commuting by 30-50% and that
- better traffic management, promotion of public transport and bicycles could cut traffic in towns by up to 50%.
Drafted by Friends of the Earth, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, the Road Traffic Reduction Bill is being introduced by Cynog Dafis MP (Plaid Cymru). Although the Bill has been supported by two thirds of MPs including transport ministers Gavin Strang and Glenda Jackson and 27 other members of the Government, the Bill has yet to secure official Government backing.
Ron Bailey, parliamentary campaigner at Friends of the Earth said:
'This report, from one of Mr Prescott's former advisors, proves that measures to cut traffic by 10 per cent are practical, feasible and can bring real benefits to the nation without massive hikes in petrol prices. The Government now has a golden opportunity to show its green credentials by supporting the Road Traffic Reduction (UK Targets) Bill later this month.
'The public wants to see less traffic on the roads. Before the General Election Labour promised to reduce road traffic. Ministers have formally given their support, now they must deliver on this pledge by supporting the Road Traffic Reduction (UK Targets) Bill.'
1. 'A guide to achieving 10% traffic reduction targets in England and Wales' was written by Professor John Whitelegg of Liverpool John Moores University. It is available priced£5 from Friends of the Earth's Parliamentary Unit (0171 490 1555).
2. In 1990 and 1991, Professor Whitelegg was a member of an advisory group set up by John Prescott and coordinated by the late Dr. John Roberts. This led to the publication of 'Travel Sickness: the need for a sustainable transport policy for Britain' with a foreword by John Prescott.
3. Cynog Dafis' Road Traffic Reduction (UK Targets) Bill aims to cut traffic levels in the UK to 10% below those in 1990 by 2010. 419 current MPs have so far given their backing to the Bill by signing Early Day Motions backing it, by writing letters in support of it to their constituents or by pledging their support to an identical Bill earlier this year. Current government members, including Gavin Strang and Glenda Jackson supported the RTRB when in Opposition. As well as signing an EDM, Glenda Jackson also signed a petition on 8 February 1997 calling for a 10 per cent national reduction target to be set.
4. For example, traffic volumes in Zurich have remained constant for over ten years, while public transport use has soared. The development of a bicycle-pedestrian network in Houten, the Netherlands, cut car trips per household by 25%, while in Bologna, Italy, a deliberate policy of traffic restraint produced a 48% drop in traffic entering the historic city centre. Even in the UK, the Manchester Metrolink tram has taken up 50% of car journeys off some roads in the area it serves.