Sustrans is calling on commuters to abandon their cars and use their bicycles as a safer, healthier and more responsible option.
A press statement issued today said:
“It is clear that Britain has suffered from under-investment in sustainable transport infrastructure over recent decades. However, the government appears to have recognised this and is beginning to tackle the massive problems through the Ten-year-plan published just 16 months ago.
“Greater investment in public transport, cycling and walking making sustainable transport options cheaper, more reliable and convenient is necessary and being applied.
“Traffic growth, it should be remembered is the only source of greenhouse gas emissions still on the rise in the UK. Building more roads and widening existing ones, is likely to encourage more traffic and make the situation even worse.
“The health benefits of cycling should also be considered. Regular exercise is essential for maintaining health. Rather than spending time on a cycling machine in a gym going nowhere, commuters could combine exercise with travelling to work instead of sitting in a car breathing in fumes. (In heavy traffic jams, the air pollution inside a car can be up to 3 times greater than suffered by a pedestrian – Environmental Transport Association 1997.)
“Cycling is, of course, also much healthier for the planet, cheaper and often much quicker!
“It is easy to blame the Government for our traffic problems, but it is commuters that make decisions about their travel plans at the end of the day. Public transport does need to be cheaper, more reliable, and convenient; but we must remember that many of us have options available right now that are safer, healthier and more responsible.”
The Sustrans statement was in response to the research report published over the weekend by the Commission for Integrated Transport.
“The first comprehensive comparisons to have been carried out on UK and European investment in transport are a clear but stark demonstration of two generations of neglect in this country,” said the report.
Commission Chair, Professor David Begg, said the survey showed "a transport network starved of investment for half a century. A situation that forced people into their cars whether they wanted to or not.
"As a result the report shows we have more congestion than any other European country and the most intensely used road network other than in Spain. And despite the relative compactness of the UK we spend more time commuting than any other European nation."
The report was commissioned by John ‘Two Jags’ Prescott, the deputy Prime Minister, who said that if the UK was to rival the best in Europe in transport “we first needed to establish the benchmarks.”
The Commission’s report shows historical levels of under-investment and that it is the public transport user, pedestrians and cyclists who have born the brunt of the under investment from successive governments. Motorists have been hit hard too through the UK’s higher levels of congestion.
Professor Begg said: "This report demonstrates what a mountain we have to climb. The decisions that we take now as a nation will determine whether we end up with a US style car culture or a sustainable European multi modal system.
"The examples of what has been achieved in Europe demonstrate that our transport network does not have to stay in its current state – but a lot depends on the levels of investment we are prepared to put in.
"We are already showing a European lead in some key areas – for example we have the best roads fatality record in Europe and we are making real strides in our light rail programme.
"Sadly on so many of the key criteria in transport we are near the bottom of the class. And those markings are in key areas which have a knock on effect on our economy, our health, social inclusion and the environment.”
The full reports, summary and fact sheet on the Commission’s research are available on the CfIT website at: http://www.cfit.gov.uk.