Eco-transport groups lobby govt not to lose heart over curbing motoring excesses

GOVERNMENT ACTION URGED TO CUT TRAFFIC JAMS

By Amanda Brown, Environment Correspondent, PA News

Fear of offending the motorist means the Government is in danger of doing nothing to deal with traffic congestion, campaign groups warned today.

Their message was that cutting jams would benefit millions, while the chaotic status quo could not continue.

The groups, which included the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Friends of the Earth, the Pedestrians' Association, the Railway Development Society and Transport 2000, were unveiling their report, Getting out of Neutral.

It showed losers in the transport stakes were businesses, children, victims of road crashes, rural and urban communities and motorists themselves.

But it suggested new action could turn them into winners.

A spokesman for the groups said: "Reversing is not an option. We cannot go back to the bad old days of road building.

"No one wins that way, since road building cannot accommodate traffic growth.

"All of us, including drivers, stand to benefit from changes in policy and lifestyle that reduce car dependence.

"The only real losers will be those who believe that people have a right to drive wherever and whenever they want, whatever the consequences."

The organisations propose Quick Wins - practical measures the Government or councils could take to get transport moving again - and Big Hits - longer term commitments.

The Quick Wins include a national public transport, information and bookings service and a national public transport card, valid on all public transport.

People would be encouraged to use public transport if there were accessible buses in every town and in the countryside too.

Bus lanes, a 20mph speed limit in cities, towns and villages, further curbs on out-of-town developments and a parking tax on them, with less stressful motoring, would all help.

Big Hits would include rail lines or rail-bus links to all settlements of more than 20,000 people and getting more freight onto railways.

Safe routes to every school and ensuring all new developments could be reached by public transport, bicycle or foot would help cut car use.

John Stewart, Vice-Chairman of Transport 2000 and editor of the document, said: "This is about improving choice, not reducing it. At present many people are forced to rely on their cars to get about.

"Policies should enable people to become less car dependent by improving the other transport modes and, through planning policies, by reducing the need to travel."

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