Memorandum by CTC (TYP 23)
CTC is delighted to contribute to this 10 Year
Transport Plan consultation exercise. CTC is the UK's national
cycle users' organisation representing more than 70,000 cyclists.
CTC seeks to promote cycling as a primary transport mode.
In common with other transport Non-Governmental
Organisations (NGO's) CTC welcomed the Government's Transport
White Paper (1998). This document represented a significant change
from the unsustainable road dominated policies that had prevailed
for several decades. However, the ensuing 10 Year Plan was disappointing,
particularly as it restored 100 large road schemes previously
suspended and downgraded emphasis previously placed on non-motorised
modes. It lacked the hard policies necessary to achieve modal
shift from motorised transport. Cycling was particularly neglected,
this despite the National Cycling Strategy and the mode's potential
to reduce urban congestion.
Despite these reservations the 10 Year Plan
set commendable transport policy targets, including those to increase
rail ridership, achieve a transfer of freight from road to rail
and reverse the historical decline in bus usage. The lack of traffic
reduction targets was very disappointing. A continuing commitment
to the National Cycle Strategy targets was welcomed.
Since the plan's publication progress has been
slow, particularly in achieving sustainable transport objectives.
Several factors must be considered:
1. Multi Modal Studies were established with
the intention of considering all options in addressing transport
issues; activists report that non-road solutions have been neglectedthe
Hasting's bypass decision was encouraging, but lack of action
since may mean the opportunity will be lost.
2. The fuel protests caused a political scare
and reinforced the "motoring lobby's" position, forcing
sustainability issues off the agenda and demonstrating Britain's
strategic vulnerability to petro-chemicals.
3. Concessions to the road haulage industry
following the fuel protests effectively reduced rail freight's
competitivenessjust as it seemed to be reviving.
4. Deteriorating rail services followed by
a series of high profile crashes demonstrated that rail privatisation
was not delivering a reliable and safe service and would not deliver
sustainable transport targetsRailTrack has been taken into
5. The economy is structured around road
transport and this cannot easily be reversed: there are backlogs
stemming from land use planning policies including out of town
shopping developments; growth in traffic volumes have left small
settlements keen to receive a bypass despite the environmental
damage this will cause.
6. Cultural resistance to modal shift can
be anticipated where car ownership has been presented as aspirational,
racing drivers are heroes and advertising often vilifies other
modes. There is evidence that cycling has a poor image and is
perceived as a sign of economic failurerather than a rational
environmental and economic decision.
7. The Government effectively resisted a
newspaper led backlash to the Speed Camera hypothecation pilots.
Public support for speed management became apparent. Adoption
of yellow cameras is a worrying retrograde step.
Notwithstanding the Hasting's bypass decision
there is little evidence of hard Government commitment to sustainable
transport. Recent Ministerial pronouncements on transport choice
are not encouraging. Transport NGO's are aware that it is not
possible to dictate transport choices within a democratic society:
this does not mean that Government must fund environmentally and
socially destructive choices. The overly conciliatory response
to the fuel protest is worrying.
Cycling and walking has a low priority within
the 10 Year Plan process. The failure to develop a walking strategy
to complement the National Cycling Strategy is a poor decision
sending out entirely the wrong message. The time taken to restructure
the National Cycling Strategy Board and appoint a new Chairman
was extremely disappointing. This body should be rolling out a
co-ordinated programme of national cycling initiatives. Instead
pilots and schemes are under development, including the CTC's
adult and teenage cycle training scheme. Without clearer Government
statements in favour of cycling and walking, National Cycling
Strategy and other aspirations will remain just that.
The recent Local Transport Plan system provides
a structure whereby sustainable transport targets can be achieved,
however this opportunity is being wasted. Activists report that
Council's have barely embraced the sustainability agenda: their
cycling and walking strategies are often of extremely poor quality
and their other policies remain detrimental to non-motorised modes.
Local authorities are primary actors in road management and policy
and have a far more direct impact at a local level than Government
or its agencies. There is currently no way of enforcing sustainable
objectives upon these powerful organisationsthis is a serious
omission. Government should use the Local Transport Plan system
far more proactively to deliver sustainable transport objectives
using the following means:
1. More prescriptive guidance is needed,
particularly in assembling sustainable transport strategiesthis
should stress cycling and walking as primary transport modes,
providing viable alternatives to car use.
2. Local Transport Plans are assessed for
quality and this influences the resources allocated to local authorities
for their transport plans; sustainable transport must play an
enhanced role within this process.
3. NGO's can work with Government to provide
guidance, which will have more credibility with its support.
4. Chief executives, chief officers and lead
councillors are key stakeholders at a local level and should be
directly targeted by Government.
5. Government can play a direct role at a
local level by providing matching resources for local authorities
to achieve sustainable transport objectives.
Effective policy implementation has been dependent
upon providing local authorities with mandatory powers and establishing
a direct subsidy regime to make it work. Permissive systems are
rarely successful as they become submerged under existing priorities
and compromised by organisational inertia and even vested interest.
Successful systems can be cost neutral using resources redeployed
from previous unsustainable policies. Small scale cycling and
walking schemes offer excellent value for money compared to capital-intensive
road projects, which are environmentally destructive and ultimately
self-defeating as they merely generate further traffic.
Failure to address sustainability at a central
and local government level and within Multi Modal Studies gives
the impression of a drift back towards a road dominated policy
framework. Now well into the Government's second term there is
little impression of progress in achieving the high-minded objectives
it set when first elected. While an education and Health Service
policy focus are commendable, a balanced package of social and
economic investment is necessary in order to achieve successful
outcomes. Joined up thinking appears to have been abandoned.
Transport policy does not work in isolation
but must be linked to other areas of land use policy and planning.
The publication of a new Policy Planning Guidance 13 addressing
transport sustainability was encouraging. However, this may be
insufficient: development patterns are linked to the assumed availability
of motorised transport. This assumption discriminates against
deprived communities with low car ownership levels. Land use planning
favouring local provision of employment, retail and community
facilities should be pursued, favouring non-motorised transport
modes and reducing the need to travel. The recent planning green
paper has the potential to create a carte blanche to force through
capital-intensive schemes with few long-term benefits and major
environmental and social impacts. This should be completely rethoughtit
will serve to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Socio-economic regeneration policies are delivered
locally and are the ideal opportunity to introduce sustainable
transport initiatives, particularly if physical redevelopment
and community consultation are to be carried out. Guidance notes
for regeneration initiatives should address sustainable transport
and 10 Year Plan objectives. The Regional Development Agencies
can play a key role in delivering this and should each develop
a sustainable transport vision.
The advent of devolved bodies within the British
political system adds a further dimension. There is evidence that
these are emphasising further road development as the key to their
economic development, a discredited policy that has already compromised
England's environmental quality. The Scottish transport portfolio's
recent subsumation is of concern, particularly as measures to
reduce car dependence apparently contributed to this decision.
It is difficult for NGO's with limited resources to contribute
within the new assemblies: despite devolution, the Westminster
Government needs to ensure that its devolved assemblies are delivering
sustainable policies in the UK's interests as a whole.
Freight distribution patterns are of particular
concern and should be addressed by transport policy and the planning
system. "Just in time" delivery and the use of centralised
depots generates unnecessary lorry trips, ignoring the potential
of local markets. It is dependent upon cheap road transport, which
is environmentally unsustainable and militates against using rail
freight to supply local communities.
The Centre for Integrated Transport's recent
report shows that Britain's transport industry is over-stretched
and that the country is more dependent than most on road transport.
There is the impression that road transport is being supported
simply to keep the economy moving as there are no viable alternatives
immediately available. The solution is heavy investment in alternative
modes. Cycling can make a major contribution, particularly in
CTC understands the links between public transport
investment and cyclists' interests. Reducing congestion by modal
shift to public transport and rail freight can help create a more
attractive cycling environment. Integrating cycling with public
transport can provide viable alternative transport options to
the carthe Sustrans led "Safer Routes to Stations"
project provides a lead. Increasing cycle access to trains assists
cycle tourism and commuters who wish to use their bike at both
ends of a journey.
The structure of both the bus and train industries
does not lend itself to meeting sustainability targets. Rail industry
trends are particularly worrying: commercial pressures and the
introduction of new stock is significantly reducing cycle carriage,
despite the 1998 White Paper stating that the rail industry should
pursue the following:
1. Increasing the number of cycles carried
2. Improving cycle customer satisfaction.
3. Increasing the number of customers arriving
at stations by cycle.
4. Providing a competitive alternative to
the private car.
The Strategic Rail Authority's (SRA) establishment
is a missed opportunity to provide the post-privatisation industry
with direction. Despite its name the SRA has not behaved in a
strategic manner. It will only produce an overarching strategy
some months after RailTrack has been taken into administration.
Its cycle carriage and parking refranchising guidance is entirely
permissive and has been widely ignored. It concedes that it is
unable or unwilling to further influence the Train Operating Companies
(TOC's) on this issue and gives every impression of assigning
it a low prioritydespite the Government objectives stated
above. The SRA must adopt the approach that the rail industry
is there to provide a "top to bottom" service for all
who wish to use the railway for whatever purpose and that the
best way to accomplish this is to grow the system so that it has
sufficient flexibility so to do.
Continued road transport investment militates
against the continued reduction of green house gas emissions.
The 10 Year Plan should incorporate the "external costs"
of wider environmental factors into transport cost benefit calculations,
eliminating some of the perverse values placed on motorised transport,
abandoning the link between economic prosperity and increased
mobility and including modal shift's environmental benefits. Road
transport's energy and pollution costs do not appear to be fully
appreciated within policy; this was demonstrated during the fuel
Hydrogen and other alternative fuel technologies
have been mooted as the answer, however there are doubts on this
technology's viability. It will not be available for some time.
Aside from the continuing environmental impact of road building,
including loss of tranquillity that cannot be restored by a move
to hydrogen cars, there are immediate benefits to reducing the
need to travel. Without such steps meeting Kyoto targets will
be that much more difficult.
The Government has conducted a wealth of very
welcome consultation: the policy outcome has been mixed, particularly
in relation to roads policy. Now is the time for well-resourced
and concerted action to achieve sustainable transport targets
and to overtly include them within a revised 10 Year Plan. In
this context the RailTrack situation can be seen as an opportunity.
As a result of consultation the NGOs' position is well known:
these organisations now stand ready to help deliver sustainable
transport outcomes. There is a danger that continuing the present
situation will appear as prevarication.
CTC would like to see further recognition of
cycling's transport role and the adoption of cycling and walking
as primary transport modes. In a wider sense transport policy
must have a long-term perspective and not be deflected by short-term
economic or political factors. The 10 Year Plan should be revised
and restructured to adopt this approach and be further focused
on achieving sustainable transport objectives in short, medium
and long terms.