Memorandum by RAC Motoring Services (WTC
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
RAC Motoring Services offers a range of services
to customers including roadside rescue and recovery, traffic and
travel information, car servicing and repair, vehicle examinations,
legal services and temporary directional signs. We provide roadside
rescue and recovery for 6.2 million customers and attend of 2.4
million breakdowns a year. Our aim is to become the first choice
provider of individual motoring solutions to our customers.
We are separate from the RAC Foundation, which
is an independent charity set up to champion the interests of
motorists and which runs a number of high profile media campaigns
and conducts research on safety, environmental and general motoring
RAC promotes responsible motoring and a balanced
approach to the car. Where possible, we do encourage motorists
to use alternative modes of transport and believe all forms should
We would welcome the early publication of a
national strategy for walking to provide focus for both local
authorities and for other transport users who will be affected
by local programmes to increase walking.
RAC has been working in schools to encourage
young people, who have not yet fixed their travel habits to consider
the alternatives to the car. Our education programmes, "Keep
on Moving" and "Grass Routes", are best practice
examples of how the private sector can play its part in promoting
greener modes of travel, primarily cycling, walking and public
RAC AND RESPONSIBLE
1. RAC Motoring Services "core mission"
has always been, and remains, to support the enjoyment of motoring.
Motoring must achieve, efficiently and acceptably, its primary
objective of giving people unrivalled, personal mobility. However,
today we are faced with a road network that is deteriorating,
poor public transport and a history of neglect of walking and
cycling. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that dependence on
cars is growing. Congestion is on the increase with all the economic,
environmental, social and safety implications that this entails.
Motorists, our customers, are well aware of these problems with
83 per cent stating that traffic congestion in towns and cities
is a major problem.
2. There is an emerging consensus for change
amongst policy makers and other interested parties. RAC Motoring
Services is committed to playing its part by promoting responsible
motoring and a balanced approach to car use that minimises both
the financial and environmental costs. Indeed, over the last few
years, we have produced a series of technical advice leaflets
on the theme of responsible motoring. These include advice on
the new vehicle excise duty and company car taxation, which come
into force in 2001 and 2002 respectively. We have also produced
a leaflet with "greener motoring tips", which encourages
motorists to consider whether their journey is necessary and if
so, whether it could be undertaken by alternative means. These
leaflets are available through our telephone hotline and our award
3. In addition, we also run a variety of
educational initiatives, which encourage young people to think
about our car dependent society and the implications thereof.
Our longer-term aim is to encourage young people, the next generation
of travellers, to develop a balanced approach to the car. In this
respect, we believe that where possible, all forms of personal
mobility should be embraced.
4. Our aim in promoting responsible motoring
is not based solely on environmental or social grounds. We want
motoring to become pleasurable and more efficient again. Without
the implementation of an integrated approach to personal mobility,
the benefits of the car will be increasingly minimised, and the
car will begin to be seen as a liability, rather than the asset,
which it really is. This clearly goes to the heart of RAC's own
5. Walking remains the most frequently used
form of transport though the number of total miles walked is in
decline. As with cycling, the relatively short distances involved
mean that this mode must be treated seriously and its potential
realised. While much of the recent focus has been on public transport,
this must not be to the neglect of other modes of transport. Public
transport requires investment and investment requires time. Walking
on the other hand can be promoted at a fraction of the cost and
arguably within a shorter time period. It should be seen as an
integral part of our transport system.
6. Indeed, back in 1995, RAC's authoritative
report on car dependence
showed that, while currently there is no viable alternative to
the car for 80 per cent of the trips for which it is used, about
one car journey in five could easily, in practice, be switched
to another mode. These are predominately short trips, usually
in urban areas, and where walking is a real possibility. Indeed,
some 25 per cent of car journeys are less than two miles long.
We firmly believe that policy makers should focus on such journeys
given that it will be easier for motorists to make the switch
the cumulative effect of such a shift may be significant and would
have many positive wider implications in terms of health, social
interaction and the environment more generally.
7. Back in 1997, RAC Motoring Services first
outlined its priorities for walking in our "Policies for
Personal Mobility" policy paper, and many of these are the
same today. While we welcome the steps that the Government has
already taken in this area, in particular the balanced approach
of the Integrated White Paper and the Ten Year Plan, we do believe
that the Government should publish a national walking strategy
in the near future.
8. A focused strategy would ensure that
targets are set (against which policy makers can gauge performance),
and that there is a uniformity of approach amongst policy makers
at all levels. This is particularly important for the more sensitive
issues such as the reallocation of road space, which may have
implications for a whole range of transport users. Indeed, one
of the greatest challenges to road transport users such as RAC
is keeping abreast of all the latest developments in transport
policy and the likely implications for breakdown operators' practices.
A comprehensive national strategy on walking would be most instructive
in this regard.
9. We believe that as a responsible motoring
organisation we should play our part in encouraging a balanced
approach to the car. Over the last three years, RAC has established
and run two educational initiatives, which aim to educate young
people about their travel choices and their implications.
10. The rationale behind our approach is
clear. We believe that it is easier to encourage young people,
who have not yet fixed their travel behaviours, are not yet drivers
and are more likely to walk and cycle than older people, to examine
their travel choices and to consider alternatives to the car.
And, by encouraging the next generation of travellers to think
about the alternatives, we are more likely to achieve a step change
in the longer term. We believe that such an approach is more likely
to be effective than, for example, symbolic days where cars are
banned from city centres.
11. The first educational initiative is
called "Keep on Moving", is the introductory module
to BSM Ignition road safety course. This is taught in 1,500 schools
across the UK through Personal, Social and Health Education and
is also available as a stand-alone teaching pack. The basic unit
is designed to last between 40 minutes and one hour, but can be
extended significantly if schools wish to pursue the exercises
more fully. The key message is that while most of us may need
access to a car throughout our lives, we may not always need to
use it. There are a series of exercises, which encourage young
people to think about the alternatives to the car, and to imagine
how towns and cities would look in a civilized city of the future,
focusing in particular on transport provision.
12. The second initiative is our "Grass
Routes" competition, which encourages students to develop
a school travel plan to tackle the school run. The competition
is open to every secondary school in the UK and over 1,000 have
signed up to this year's competition. The competition is supported
by a free curriculum challenge pack, which has a range of activities
across a variety of disciplines to help teachers bring the issue
of sustainable transport into the classroom. Students are encouraged
to take a holistic approach to the issue of school travel, taking
social, health, environmental and safety factors in consideration
when developing their plan.
13. The competition was originally piloted
with the 1,500 schools that were part of BSM's Ignition programme.
While cycling was perhaps seen as the top solution, walking was
considered by some schools to be an integral part of a school
travel plan. A "buddy" system (with older students accompanying
younger ones on the school journey), safe houses (where students
could go in any difficulty) and cheaper food in the canteen for
those that walked to school were among the more innovative walking
solutions proposed. RAC Motoring Services produced a best practice
leaflet with hints and tips from the winners and ideas for further
action as a result of the competition the first time round, and
this was circulated to every secondary school in the UK.
14. We have developed our educational initiatives
in close co-ordination with DETR, DfEE and Sustrans and believe
that this partnership approach can reap significant benefits in
terms of promoting alternatives to the car. Indeed, transport
and health issues are top of the Government agenda and there may
well be further interest from the private sector. The closing
date for Grass Routes 2001 competition entries is April. We will
be more than happy to share with the committee any best practice
5 RAC Report on Motoring 2000. Back
Car dependence: a report for the RAC Foundation for Motoring and
the Environment (Oxford, 1995). Back