Towards a Sustainable Transport System: Supporting Economic Growth in a Low Carbon World is a 90-page tub-thumper and it mentions cycling seventeen times.
CTC campaigns manager Roger Geffen said: “It’s great to see Government recognising that cycling can help tackle the twin crises of obesity and climate change. But what’s needed is action now, not the promise of a White Paper in the future. Last week’s Foresight report made clear that poor transport choices lead straight to obesity. ‘Smarter choices’ – including cycle training – are one of the most cost-effective ways to encourage people out of their cars and onto sustainable transport.”
Towards a Sustainable Transport System is the Department for Transport’s response to both the Eddington Transport Study and the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change.
According to the DfT it "argues that forcing the pace of technological improvements and removing the obstacles to behavioural change will be key to ensuring transport makes a substantial contribution to the goal of at least a 60% reduction of CO2 by 2050…The document demonstrates how this new approach to planning will be underpinned by long term funding. The recent Comprehensive Spending Review means that the Department for Transport now has a long term funding guideline to 2019 and that spending on transport will be double what it was twenty years previously."
However, cycling didn’t feature in the Comprehensive Spending Review, despite Cycling England putting in a robust bid for £75m.
Yet Towards a Sustainable Transport System holds out a hope that maybe this funding forgetfulness was a lapse, soon to be rectified. The seventeen mentions of cycling include the blindingly obvious ("The health benefits of cycling and walking are clear-cut…") through to oft quoted stats that bear constant repeating:
The impact of local travel on climate change is very significant. In 2006, 57 per cent of all trips (excluding cycling and walking) were of less than five miles, including 56 per cent of car journeys. Furthermore, as well as people making many more short trips than long ones, those trips tend also to be less energy efficient as cars do fewer miles-per-gallon in urban conditions than they do on motorways and their fuel efficiency is lowest when engines ‘run cold’. Balancing this, there is much more scope in urban areas to reduce the need to travel by locating services closer to users (which also has important social inclusion benefits) and to promote cycling and walking as alternatives to the car (which also has health benefits).
In the US, 40 per cent of all urban trips are two miles or less. To highlight this fact, Clif Bar rolled out its 2Mile Challenge at Interbike. This is a roadshow using a biodiesel bus equipped with a bunch of city bikes. The campaign is US-based but there’s a website into which you can slot a zipcode or UK postcode and up pops a Google map with a two-mile diameter semi-isocrone.
Iso what? In 2006, developers from MySociety.org (from the same stable that brought us the MP tracking TheyWorkForYou.com) were given DfT cash to create maps which feature lines and blobs which show the time to reach areas from a given point by different modes of transport. The examples on MySociety are cars v trains on the East Coast mainline, and cars v buses in London and Cambridge. No one has yet produced such detailed isocrone maps for bikes v buses v cars. No prizes for guessing which mode of transport is (always) quickest through town, though.
Click on the links below for pix of 2Mile Challenge maps centred on certain influential locations and note how Google Maps can also plot the location of bike shops (although the list is a little inaccurate).
London (centred on the Houses of Parliament)
Cardiff (centred on the Welsh Assembly)
Edinburgh (centred on the Scottish Parliament)
Washington (centred on the White House)