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CUTTING THE CONFLICT OF CARS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

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A report, Rural Traffic: Getting it Right', showing ways of ...
A report, Rural Traffic: Getting it Right', showing ways of

overcoming rural traffic problems and published today by the

Countryside Commission, explains how traffic management should be

taken up, involving the public in new local strategies to bring car

traffic and its impact on the countryside back in balance.

Launching the report at its national conference on rural traffic

growth in London's Barbican, the commission sees that the

government's Integrated Transport White Paper, due next year, is a

real opportunity to acknowledge the conflict between increased

traffic and a healthy countryside.

Transport planning must be driven by the goal of sustainable

development, which in this case means stopping car dependence

damaging our countryside heritage through suburbanisation. In

villages this implies giving as much priority to people on foot or

bicycles as to the car.

Speaking at the conference, the chairman of the Countryside

Commission, Richard Simmonds said: 'People must have wider travel

options. These include public transport, foot and pedal power, taxis

and community transport and staying put, through for instance

home-shopping and tele-working. People must also be able to

understand and agree with the reasons why such options need to carry

higher priority.

'Rural traffic growth is as big a part of the general traffic problem

as urban traffic growth. But the rural effects and consequences are

different. We are witnessing the irretrievable loss to the car and

truck of countryside character and meaning. This is distinct from the

urban symptoms of gridlock and pollution. But all need to be tackled

by government together. Rural traffic pressures, left to overheat,

will within a generation leave us with only a cracked veneer of

countryside in many areas.

'Government guidance should give unqualified support to rural traffic

demand management as a core ingredient of land use planning. Traffic

and transport guidance to local authorities should fully reflect

rural needs in the submission of Transport Policies and Programmes

(TPP) funding bids.

'It's time for a change. In most country roads and lanes it is no

longer safe to walk, cycle, push a pram or ride a horse. The car is

king of the road and drivers assume that if someone is in the road

around a corner and an accident occurs, not only will drivers be

safer in the cocoon of their vehicles, but it will be the

non-motorist's problem for being there. It's too easy,' he said,

'Just to say that 'something must be done'. There is a lot being done

and more to do, as experiments that we have been working on show.'

'This conference marks a change in all our thinking, planning and

action on tackling the unacceptable tyranny of the car in much of

England's countryside,' he emphasised. 'It is to explore positive

action for the future. It is time to curtail the tyranny of

unrelenting pressure on rural residents, businesses and visitors of

accelerating car dependence, vehicle numbers and speed, while

accepting that in many rural areas the car is a necessary means of

transport.

'We have classic freedoms in our society,' he pointed out, 'including

thought, speech, press and education. The car is not, as many

imagine, a fifth freedom, it's only a licence because it can harm as

much as it benefits our quality of life. The commisson's research

urges a new commitment locally and nationally to traffic demand

management, with funding reforms to create real alternatives to the

private car and a determined focus by local authorities on public

participation in getting, and keeping, lower car dependence for

travel to and in the countryside.

-- Copies of the new commission report 'Rural Traffic: Getting it

Right',CCP515, are available free of charge from the Countryside

Commission Postal Sales, PO Box 124, Walgrave, Northampton NN6 9TL,

(tel 01604 781848).

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